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HR Articles ( 04 Aug 2009 )
Article One: Body Language for Successful HR Even people, like the Prince of Wales, who are trained to deal with difficult situations can display the wrong body language when under pressure and ruin the message they hope to convey. Anna Burges-Lumsden reports on the importance of non-verbal cues. Prince Charles’ body language said it all at a photo call in Klosters on 31 March 2005. With a forced smile through gritted teeth, a defensive posture and eyes desperate to avoid contact with Fleet Street’s finest, his distaste for the media could not have been clearer.

Human Resources Articles
Article One: Body Language for Successful HR

Even people, like the Prince of Wales, who are trained to deal with difficult situations can display the wrong body language when under pressure and ruin the message they hope to convey. Anna Burges-Lumsden reports on the importance of non-verbal cues.

Prince Charles’ body language said it all at a photo call in Klosters on 31 March 2005. With a forced smile through gritted teeth, a defensive posture and eyes desperate to avoid contact with Fleet Street’s finest, his distaste for the media could not have been clearer.

Prince William, by contrast, appeared relaxed, poised and confident of the image he was presenting. And so in one dramatic photograph the importance of body language was laid bare.

What the Prince of Wales really needs - apart from a lecture on the dangers of speaking near a microphone - is some serious body language coaching. Like thousands of other people in positions of responsibility he would benefit from expert help on non-verbal communication.

Words account for less than 10% of a message’s impact. The rest comes from non-verbal cues.

According to Mike Petrook, public affairs manager of the Chartered Management Institute, 90% of the messages we convey are through body language.

He said: “Half of what we communicate is transmitted through our bodily positions and movements, so understanding physical gestures and ex-pressions can help us work more efficiently at all levels of the workplace.

“Being aware of people’s body language will help you learn more about your colleagues and how to work better with them,” he said.

Mary-Louise Angoujard, CEO and founder of Rapporta, who is specialist in executive communication and body language, believes body language is only part of the whole picture.

“Non-verbal communication not only includes body language, posture, facial ex-pressions and eye contact, but also vocal ex-pression, tone, pitch and pace.” And she said that to communicate successfully you must “ensure congruence with your words in all these areas”.

During negotiations or when you need to maintain authority in a meeting, Angoujard affirmed the importance of being clear of your objectives and the messages you want to communicate.

“Preparation is key,” she said. “And gathering all facts and documentation and pre-empting all possible difficulties or concerns will ensure confidence and a feeling of positive self-control. As so much of body language is unconscious on our part, this will help to ensure your non-verbal communication sends out the right signals.”

Angela Mortimer, who runs her own international recruitment consultancy, believes that maintaining good eye contact is also essential.

“People talk about eye contact and active listening, but staring someone out can be negative,” she said. “You can divert your eyes when you’re thinking and make eye contact again when you’re talking.”

When conducting interviews, Angoujard emphasised the importance of building rapport with the individual and establishing an environment where they feel at ease.

“This is the only way you will be best served in discovering their real strengths and skills and whether they will be a good match for the role and your organisation,” she said.

During difficult situations such as making redundancies, Angoujard recommended greeting the employee in an appropriately pleasant but serious manner.

She said: “Welcome with a pleasant ex-pression, however maintain a demeanour that reflects the serious nature of the discussion and your respect for the situation and the individual.”

Angoujard also stressed the importance of the environment in which the redundancy takes place. She suggested that when possible, conduct the meetings on neutral ground such as a meeting or conference room rather than someone’s office, and that being seated around the corner of a round, oval or square table will be less ‘confrontational’ and more ‘collegiate’.

Petrook warned, however, that body language is hard to fake and even someone who has developed a good understanding of the importance of gestures and gesticulations cannot completely disguise their own thoughts.

“There are some elements of behaviour that will remain controlled by the subconscious and are involuntary,” he said.

Angoujard said that because so much of non-verbal communication is subliminal in nature, the best solution is to understand first your own attitudes, intentions and objectives and then speak accordingly.

This way, the messages you send involuntarily will be congruent with your conscious words, tone and gestures, she said.

“When you believe your own message, the impact is much greater and others are more likely to believe you mean what you say,” Angoujard said.

Body language for tricky situations

In negotiations

Prepare well
Control environment
Offer a warm greeting
Understand your position
Have an upright, confident posture
Open body language (relaxed not stiff)
Build rapport
Maintain good eye contact - no eyeballing
Ask good quality, open questions
Speak in a clear, measured manner
Show empathy
Display controlled energy.

Unremitting eyeball to eyeball
Ignoring members of the group
Coldness or harshness in your voice
Closed body language (arms folded, head down, avoiding eye contact).
Making redundancies

Offer a pleasant but serious greeting
Provide a round, oval or square table and sit on the corner not opposite
Use an appropriate voice tone, pitch, pace
Display open, neutral body language
Give reasonable eye contact
Present a respectful attitude
Offer empathy but stay businesslike
Provide meaningful consultations
Use a calm voice at a slow pace
Use a businesslike demeanour
Supply third-party reference facts
Don’t be

Distant or intimate
Superior or inferior
Offensive or defensive
Maternal or paternal
Maintain unbroken eye contact
Display overtly closed or defensive body language
Display too much joviality or friendliness
Conducting interviews

Use open body language
Present a straight, relaxed, confident posture
Maintain good eye contact so that you look pleasant and engaged
Offer a firm handshake
Show sincerity in voice tone
Speak a suitable pace
Explain expectations
Take charge
Express interest in person & their experience
Ask framed, contextualised questions
Listen attentively and nod occasionally

Give a flimsy or bone-crushing handshake
Sit across a table
Stand too close on arrival
Invade personal space
Say: “Tell me about yourself”
Body Language at Work

What people say is often very different from what they think. We’ve all learned that honesty is not always the best policy. Keeping your cards close to your chest is seen as the most basic workplace survival strategy. Is body language the chink in all our armour?

What really matters most to your boss – posture or performance? Body language specialists argue that the two are inter-related. If you come across as disorganised or lacking composure, your colleagues will dismiss your ideas and efforts.

Spot the difference
Laurel Herman, author of Managing Your Image In a Week, provides one-to-one body language consulting. She put her belief in body language theories to the test. When planning an important speech on the subject, she decided to give her audience a graphic demonstration. ‘When I was announced I scurried on to the stage and then began speaking in a high-pitched, squeaky, breathless voice, allowing my words to trip over themselves. As I spoke I maintained a hunched shoulder posture and gesticulated wildly. After a few sentences, I abruptly sat down to a horrified silence. The shock was palpable. Then I got up again, and standing quite upright, hands neatly by my side, addressed the audience in a calm, authoritative voice.’ From then on, her relationship with the audience was completely transformed: ‘They listened attentively to every word.’

Expert findings
This is backed by psychologist, Albert Mehrabian. He claims that it’s not what you say, but how you say it that really matters. In the 1960s he conducted extensive communication research and discovered that words account for a tiny seven percent of a message’s impact. The rest comes from non-verbal cues, such as voice tone and facial ex-pression.

But in the real world of work how much does all this really matter? A growing number of workers use technology to communicate. Phone calls, faxes and emails don’t betray whether we're sitting up straight or lounging comfortably at our desks.

People who work from home are even more out of the picture. ‘There's a significant section of the workforce who don't need to consider their body language,’ says Kathryn Bullock, founder ‘They may still see some people but, on the whole, they can get on with their jobs, and get on with them very well, without ever having to think about how they look.

Many workers do have to deal with clients and colleagues on a face-to-face basis. Here body language plays a ‘massive role’, says Judi James, author of BodyTalk At Work: ‘Knowing how to give the right body language signals and knowing how to read those around you can actually boost your career.’ Judi explains the most common examples of bad body language:

Tightly crossed arms, high on the chest, looks defensive and uninterested
High-pitched, fast-paced voice may sound girly and lack authority
Rolling on your heels looks like you are insecure and childish
Lazing about on a chair appears arrogant and lazy
A shoulder shrug signals that you don’t believe what's been said, even if it was you that said it!
Playing with your hair implies an inner build-up of anxiety
Pulling your ear gives the impression you're struggling to reach a decision
Touching your face is a sign of nervousness or possibly even dishonesty
Stroking your neck can make you seem stressed or flirtatious
Wringing your hands shows concern
Fidgeting suggests worry
Foot tapping impatience
Pen drumming boredom

The sceptics
‘You’ve got to put it into perspective,’ says Gene Crozir from the Institute of Management. Nick Isle, from the Industrial Society agrees. ‘Body language is just one element of communication and communication itself is just one element of the skills required to succeed in today’s workplace.’ Both point out that the importance of body language can be overstated or simply misunderstood. ‘A lot of people don’t understand it and, even if they did, most don’t have time to analyse it properly. They’re too busy getting on with their jobs,’ says Crozir.

Is body language winning?
The Looking Good, Sounding Right: style counselling in the new economy report highlights that certain aspects of body language are becoming increasingly important in the growing service sector. The physical impression given by staff in this sector is becoming inextricably linked with brand awareness and success. The report suggests that looking and sounding the part may count more than one’s experience or ability.

Sujeet Kumar
Strategist: HR, Training & Development

Article Two: In the Wonderworld of Recruitment
Recruitment is a ballgame played between perspiring HR managers and aspiring software engineers. The game is getting complicated with the number of coaches (ex-colleagues) and referees (placement consultants) outnumbering the players themselves.

SW engineer: Software engineer – generally believed to be the ninth wonder of the world.

HR Managers: Human Resource Managers – generally believe and pretend that they understand this wonder

Consultants – those who practice the "balanced scorecard" – that they must take away as many as they place.

Managers: those who secretly wish they had remained SW engineers. Some work hard at becoming one again and some succeed when exported to the US.

Delusion of adequacy - An often-noticed neurotic symptom in SW engineers.

Walk-in mantra – an epidemic often believed by HR managers to be the panacea for people shortage.

HIV positive: Can be deadly for an offshore-friendly SW organisation

AIDS – HIV positive leads to this Acquired India Defection Syndrome.

Cutting edge technology – something like the flying saucer, everyone believes it exists but no one has seen it yet.

Laster-jet printers: those wonder machines that facilitate exposure to SW engineers by churning out a document internationally known as "resume." This is one of the visible and powerful employee benefits provided to SW engineers by both employee-friendly and unfriendly companies and utilisation varies between 98 per cent and 99 cent.

CMM: higher levels of managers in SW organisations mistake it to be capability maturity model but an average SW engineer has a better understanding of its as compensation monitoring model.

Consultants: these are the "coaches" or referees in the ballgame of recruitment. They also toss the coin but with a difference. Heads they win but tails they win too. And they get to keep the coin! Here are certain type of consultants, and the list is by no means exhaustive.

The Unemployed: The problem of unemployment in India has been mitigated to some extent by the emergence of the new profession – placement consultancy.

The umeployable: Here belong those college or school dropouts who were wise, they did not waste precious time looking for less lucrative employment.

Mrs. Senior Manager: In slant, it is known as "side business". In jargon, it’s known as moonlighting. Experienced managers sometimes encourage their spouses to take to the placement profession. The contacts, knowledge base and access to industry information of the manager are well used.

Professional consultants: In this wonderworld, there are also placement consultants who are value-adding to the organisation. They integrate well in the supplier chain, ensure candidates are not traded off, and provide a bridge for the right people to reach suitable organisations. May their tribe increase. As for candidates, the SW engineers fail under different categories as well. The list is not exhaustive here as well.
Pen friends: These are candidates who are perennially in correspondence with HR folks. Some of the subjects are: Compensation, benefits for self, family and inlaws. Tools, technology, platforms, processes and processors. Internet connection at office, home, Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Quality of people, projects, infrastructure, canteen, library, lighting, cooling etc., Transport from office to home and vice versa. Gymnasium, tennis court, swimming pool. Once they get all the information, they make an informed choice not to join the company.

Cowboys: These are candidates whose primary objective is to "milk" as much from the company as possible. And use it (a) to negotiate within their current company; (b) renegotiate with another company; and (c) use it for credit rating of themselves.

Hobbyists: These collect "offer letters". They spend considerable time and effort interviewing with many companies and maintain meticulously a portfolio of offers that include imaginative service conditions and of course different titles.

Market researchers: These will measure high on CMM level 4. They are continuously looking for evaluating their market value and acceptability.

Tourists and members of frequent fliers’ club: These are not content with the "leave travel facility" they enjoy in their company. They would like to avil of the hospitality of companies, especially those situated outside their normal place of stay so they make it to interviews but never join.

Auditors: Candidates who, having received an offer, want to

Visit office / place of work for a "recee" alone or with family
Meet future colleagues, subordinates and audit them to get more information
See balance sheet / P & L account
Explore possibilities of employee stock option scheme.
HIV(isa) positive cases: Those with 3-6 years of experience are the most susceptible. When you interview them, it is very hard to discover that the real reason for wanting the US posting is the dollar differential to the rupee. But symptoms of the following should be looked for: buying ET only on weekdays, not wanting to commit themselves for long duration projects, sudden concern for family, newly found and articulated interest in domain technology your company is not even remotely working in.

Genuine candidates: It is not too difficult to recognize these; they are known by their knowledge, interest values and words. May their tribe increase.

Writer: C. Mahalingam
Source: The Economic Times 9/21/2000

 Article Three: Things to Know When Considering a Severance Agreement

When firing an employee, many companies today present a severance agreement, or a contract which usually states that the departing employee agrees not to press charges against the employer. On the other hand, the employer promises to provide a payment called a severance package.
Below is a list of a few important things to remember when asked to sign such a document:
The agreement is legally binding, and will waive some of your rights as an employee. Part of the severance agreement typically speaks about a 'release of rights,' which waives your right to sue for wrongful termination. However, if the employer somehow coerces you into signing, the agreement can become null and void. Also, the agreement should not affect the pay and other benefits that you have already rightfully earned.
Take your time. Knowing that you are losing your job can lead to severe emotional distress which can greatly affect your decision-making skills. To avoid making a poor decision, ask the employer for some time to think things over. Every employee has the right to delay signing the agreement, and those over 40 years old can have 21 days to review the document.
Check whether you have leverage for negotiation purposes. If you believe you are being fired on unlawful grounds, for instance, because of your age, race, gender, religion or a disability, consult a lawyer to determine how the case of discrimination can make you eligible for a better severance package.
Maintain your composure all the time. The employer may take advantage of your behavior during the discussion to deny you of the benefits, citing workplace violence or misconduct. Thus, be assertive but polite throughout the negotiation.
Finally, consult an expert. To gain a complete understanding of the implications of a severance agreement, do not hesitate to seek the help of a human resource expert.
Jeff Paul
June 30, 2009  

Article Four: Vacancy Duplication - A Growing Trend
Nothing has had a greater impact on the Indian jobseeking professional than the simple computer related process of Cut & Paste.

Vacancy duplication has reached unhealthy levels. Today, with so many players in the recruitment business - I mean not only the placement firms, but also magazines, newspapers, and job-websites - wooing vacancies for display, the duplication effect is tremendous.

There was a time when the problem was simple. One vacancy being handled by several recruitment firms - and it stopped there. The job seeker either banked on luck to get headhunted, or a little careful spreading of nets amongst placement firms would get in the catch. The law of probability was not such a serious threat.

Today, Bingo! No jobseeker needs a hunting pack. The vendors of the placement business deliver at your doorstep.

Who calls the shots? The jobseeker is certainly getting the short end of the stick. The information supply lines of jobs are numerous, but
unfortunately the actual number of jobs are not. The repetitive nature of information is making its utility redundant.

What is worrisome is not the existence of vacancy duplication, but the prevalent myopic attitude. Its time the vendors of vacancies, be it placement, print or electronic, looked a few years ahead and asked - "ANY TAKERS?"
Courtesy - Jobnet Job Magazine

Article Five: The 9 Major Causes of Failure In Leadership
Not all of us are natural born leaders. Most of us are moving into leadership roles from a followers role. So we have to work at it very hard in order to be great at it. However, some of us will stumble along the way. For those of you that will stumble. You will battle the mistakes that come along with being a leader. There are 10 mistakes you must avoid in order to be the best leader you can be.
Inability to organize details.
The first mistake is the inability to organize details. This is one of the most common mistake a leader can make. You must be very organized as a leader. Organization will allow you to schedule events and foresee possible problems. Also a leader that is too busy is not a true leader. A leader should never be to busy to help others.
Unwillingness to render humble services
Some leaders think and feel they are better then the people that follow them. They feel since they have moved into a leadership role that some tasks are below them. That there are some tasks they shouldn't have to perform anymore. A true leader will lead by example. They are not afraid to role up their sleeves and offer some elbow grease. When a situation gets tough and no one want to perform it. This is when a lead should take the reins and show their follows that no one is above the law. They are there to help them get through it. Whether by manual labor or mental brainstorming.
Expectation of pay for what they know.
Avoiding this mistake will make the difference whether your business succeeds or fails. Leaders that feel they should get paid for what they know, instead of what they do are destined to fail. The world may start off paying you for what you know. However after the beginning if you don't perform that pay will be cut. In network marketing the great leaders get paid a lot of money for what they do. You have to take action in order to have longevity in that industry. Otherwise you will never make it off the ground.
Fear of competition from followers.
The fastest way to grow your network marketing business is to help others achieve their goals. When you help others make a check, your check will get bigger. Ii is easier to have 100 people doing 30% of the work. Then it is for you to do 100% by yourself. So if you're always worried that one of your followers will by pass you in rank or pay. You will never achieve your goals.
Lack of Imagination!
An imagination is crucial to entrepreneurs especially leaders. Without this trait, leaders will not be able to effectively handle emergencies as they pop up. They will also lack the creative planning to efficiently guide there followers.
There is no greater feeling then being noticed and honored for the hard work you have done. One of the quickest ways to create distrust and discernment in your followers is to except all of the praise. Whether you deserve it or not. Great leaders will always give the credit to his followers. Whether it was because of him or not. Always giving the credit to your followers will strengthen the trust and subconsciously make then want to work harder for you.
Every leader will have chinks in their armor at some period in their leadership. However one chink you want to straighten out quickly would be disloyalty. A disloyal leader will create distrust issues amongst the team. Disloyal leader rarely create longevity, let alone wealth.
Emphasis of the authority of leadership.
A great leader will lead with encouragement, not with fear. As a leader you never want to use your authority to impress your followers. A leader that leads with fear and impressing flare is leading by force. Throughout history such dictators like Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin led by force. We all know want happen to them! Real leaders need not advertise there authority. They lead through their conduct of understanding, fairness, and know how.
Emphasis of title!
Real leaders don't need a title to feel empowered and respected by others. Titles have a tendency to separate people by stator. A leader should always be accessible to anyone at anytime. Great leaders always have an open door policy and they check their ego's at the door. Leaders that emphasis their title have nothing else to show for.
So these are the 9 ways you can fail at leadership. You only need to be bad at one to invoke failure. Just remember everything take practice. Only a follow people are natural born leaders. The rest of us have to learn from mistakes to become a great leader. Don't believe for one second that you can never become a great leader. 80% of leadership is how you present yourself and act. Think and act like a leader and the rest will follow.

Zack Miller
June 30, 2009