❂ WHO AM I
❂ WHAT CAUSED OFFICE POLITICS
Contrary to popular beliefs, Office Politics exist not because it is human nature.
Let me explain with a factual example.
It is a fact that the Sun rises from the East every morning.
However, if I can show you, just for one day, that the Sun rises from the West one morning; even if it doesn’t happen the very next day, this isolated incident simply means one thing and one thing only:
That the Sun rises from the East every morning is no longer a fact.
Similarly, if I can show you just one example that with 2 human beings, there is no politics between them, then it is not true that human nature created it or that there is no such thing as zero office politics.
There are numerous examples of business partners, family businesses, even small teams in the world that operated without office politics. It just gets much harder when the team grows in size as the job of interviewing and assessing candidates falls on the shoulders of different HR interviewers with different perspectives, opinions, experiences, skills and biases.
Colleagues pretending to gossip about their Operations Manager, Susumu Narato-san; in front of him.
❂ INCONSISTENT ASSESSMENT IS THE CULPRIT
One famous global company I know, rotated their hiring managers every other weekends at their walk-in interviews.
Because of the sheer size of their teams, more than 7,500 staff, they had to replace their headcount with 750 new hires per year with just 10% attrition, just to maintain status quo. That’s hiring 2 per day throughout the year.
That’s a feat not many organisations are well equipped to achieve easily. And to make matter worst, they needed to interview thousands per day during their recruitment exercise. As a result, there is interview fatigue and hence needed to roster employees to handle separate campaigns on weekends to avoid burnout.
This compounded the problem, because different hiring managers have different opinions, views, perspectives and sensing skills.
As a result, they hire based on appearance and standard interview questions rather than CORE VALUES that are aligned with their corporate values. This inconsistent assessments brought upon different personality types and behaviors to the team, resulting in different opinions, values and subsequent behaviors.
❂ WHY VALUES ARE CRITICAL TO GET RIGHT
Peoples’ Values drive how they behave in a social environment which is their true self.
Peoples’ values drive what they feel are important to their lives.
Values drive decisions around what is “valuable” to them. Hence the term “Values”
Decisions drive corresponding behaviors.
When we understand a persons’ values at work and at home, it’s a lot easier to predict how they will behave innately when confronted in a situation where their natural innate mechanism is to behave a certain way.
Take for example:
Someone who values the freedom to make their own decisions.
Given any significant choices that this person has to make, it is unlikely they will follow any material instructions with blind faith. They will desire, in their innate being, to make up their own minds about whether to do or not to; to take actions or not to, regardless of what they are being told. This value of freedom is utmost in their behaviors that any push for them to concede to decisions they did not buy into or micro-managing them on a daily basis, stifle their natural self.
Not right. Not wrong.
Just how they prefer to be.
The best way to manage around someone who values freedom, is to literally give them space and freedom to make up their own minds.
❂ WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON’T EVEN KNOW THEIR VALUES
This is when clashes in values and misunderstanding happens.
If I do not even know that my subordinate or colleague values freedom, and I try to enforce or push a decision through without using a consultative or collaborative approach, it will backfire. The result is resentment, frustrations and in extreme cases leave an emotional and traumatic experience. This is the start of politics, where they vent their frustrations to others about bosses or colleagues being forceful or inconsiderate at work. This misunderstood episode eventually leads to tale wagging around water cooler and discussions over luncheon.
Office politics starts from misunderstanding of each others values and what others considered to be the appropriate way to communicate or solve a problem based on what they feel is important or of “value” to them.
❂ WHAT WENT WRONG TO BEGIN WITH
Traditional way of interview assessments rely on HR Interviewers to assess the values and attitude of the candidates in a formal interview. Both parties arrive at the interview prepared to “suss” each other out.
The interviewer has already reviewed the resume, perhaps with an attached photograph profile and have already made some preliminary assessments based on what they have read.
The candidates is prepared to present the best of themselves, which in most cases, aren’t the normal day to day behavior they are accustomed to.
Herein lies the Human Bias already. (Look out for our next newsletter about Avoiding Human Bias at Interviews)
First variance happens when the same interviewer approaches the interview of DIFFERENT candidates using the SAME approach or general questions across all candidates in an attempt to maintain consistency. This supposedly “consistency” is in itself INCONSISTENT, because human moods, bias are all part of a person’s daily grind.
❂ SO WHAT CAN BE DONE
To avoid human bias, we recommend a process that takes the assessments of the individual’s values out of human assessments.
We first invented a process that is consistent for all applicants, before we even read their resumes. This is to avoid the subconscious decisions on which applicant is suitable for the job simply based on their resume which can easily to tailored towards “sounding” like they are suitable due to their skills and experience. This also avoid the pitfall of passing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that uses key words to determine if an applicant is suitable, again due to what key words are written in their resume.
This process is outlined in brief on this Newsletter Interviewer Playbook: https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/interviewer-playbook-7019707147781300225
“As part of our interview process, we would like you to do the following attached drawing exercise before you are further shortlisted for Zoom/F2F interviews.
Kindly read and following the instructions in the attached Drawing Instructions and send back your drawings via this email within 3 business days or if you need more time, please reply and let us know when you can complete this exercise”
This process assess the candidates on a few aspects:
#1. Responsiveness. To respond within 3 business days, which is ample time.
#2. Compliance. Ability to follow simple and direct instructions.
#3. Consistency. Measure consistency in their response time.
#4. Responsibility. Typically candidates will reply to confirm receipt and state when they will revert, if they can’t do it within 3 business days due to say vacation or out of office etc. And some will miss the deadline or fail to even respond. This suss out those who will ghost the interview or the job eventually.
#5. Values & Attitude. The drawings shows their dominant values and what are important to them and how they go about making decisions. This prevents the eventual misunderstanding with others they work with, minimising office conflict and politics (More about this in another Newsletter).
❂ WHY CANDIDATES ARE NOT PROPERLY VERIFIED
When candidates are asked a series of “exactly’ the same standardised questions at different timing of interviews, they are supposedly an Apple to Apple comparison?
The only time this is totally true is when both or all candidates are present at the same time and asked the exact same question (without having to rephrase at different interview timing). Then we are comparing Apples with Apples WITHIN that cohort of candidates.
Else, it is a mere reference point at best.
Having a set of standardised question is not in itself wrong.
It is just incomplete and inadequate to assess individual candidates who are inherently different and unique from everyone else.
To verify all answers are truthful and unique to each candidate, an ADDITIONAL set of customised interview questions specify to each candidates VALUES/ATTITUDE/BEHAVIOR needed to be verified.
Using the same example of Freedom (as a Value) above, we have crafted in our solutions a series of questions that verify this:
#1. Please cite an example in the past where you choose to take your time to make up your own decisions and it served you well. And one in which it backfired on you or you got it wrong.
#2. Share an experience where you were told to follow an instruction which you disagreed with. What happened?
#3. Relate a past incident where you didn’t like or prefer not to have someone micro-manage your work. Provide details.
These 3 questions are just some examples of how we would approach to have this Value verified. If we can solicit enough real life examples from the above questions, it tells us the preferred value is likely true and dominant in their behavior.
The Hiring Manager can then decide if this behavior is something he/she is willing to accept, taking the guess work out of the equation if this candidate can follow instructions without questioning.
#1. Polycronic Culture – Check Time Management Issues.
#2. Indecisiveness – Check Decisiveness when needed.
#3 Sensitivity – Check ability to take criticism.
#4 Ambitious – Check ambition versus reality.
#5 Freedom – Check ability to follow instructions.
#6 Career – Check overall stability in their current career/performance.
#7 Lifestyle – Check how grounded they are.
#8 Financial – Check financial well being. (More about this in another newsletter).
❂ HOW WE CAN HELP
Reach out to us via email for a free consultative session on how we can improve your hiring and employee engagement process with unbiased and consistent assessments to minimise Office Politics.