Finding the Good Apples at the Water Cooler

how about dem apples

How ’bout them apples?

The HR news we’re chewing on for the week ending January 25th, 2013:

Lobster Dinners for Everyone?

Despite the impression you may get from the goings-on in Washington, compromise is the key to success. And the key to compromise is building relationships, according to a post on Harvard Business Review. Without a solid relationship, negotiations become less about finding a solution and more about winning, with neither side truly listening to what the other is saying. In the Mad Men era, managers got to know their employees and each other in the executive dining room. Elitist though that may have been, with it we’ve lost an important outlet for executives to connect and build a support structure for business.

One step managers can take to build all-important relationships are to identify people within their organizations or in adjacent organizations (read: customers or partners) with whom they may eventually collaborate. The second step is to develop a tailored way to reach out to each person with the sole purpose of getting to know him or her. Treating an employee to lunch is never a bad idea, nor is a quick “getting to know you” phone call.

In The Navy

Since good relationships are key to good teamwork, companies with strong team cohesion are more likely to do great things and find financial success. This week, a former Navy SEAL writes on Forbes about his three tips—culled from his own experiences in the military—for creating a team-oriented business culture. Focus on communication, for one, which creates a culture of transparency by providing employees with knowledge of the realities of the workplace, and defines what “winning” really looks like.

Strong teams also come from a strong sense of loyalty. Management should lead by example: never single out an employee, thrown anyone under the bus, leave anyone behind, or offer anything less than unconditional support. Finally, encourage collaboration. Develop teams and allow them free reign to innovate.

The Bad Apples

No matter how much effort management makes to encourage happiness and engagement among employees, sometimes a bad apple is a bad apple. So what do you do when you have an unhappy camper but you know you treat your workers well, and by and large receive positive feedback from them? Inc. offers three ways to weed out entitled employees. If an employee is acting in an inappropriate manner, it’s imperative that you tell them. Workers can’t change what they don’t know. If talking is getting you nowhere, it may be wise to terminate the problem employee as soon as possible. Don’t waste time and resources on bad fits.

Seeding the Talent Gap

Without unemployment persistently high, finding great employees shouldn’t be such a struggle. So why is so much time at HR conferences devoted to the “talent gap?” Bloomberg BusinessWeek argues that the corporate recruiting structure is designed to find the most compliant candidate—the “Empty Suit”—but not the best one. Recruiting best practices often pass over the brilliant, complicated workers companies need in favor of wan, docile drones.

One strategy innovative companies should keep in mind is to avoid hyper-specific job descriptions that suggest the employee is lucky to be considered and not the other way around. Tedious recruiting websites should also be eliminated, along with additional screening tests and lame interview questions. We all know that no one really answers, “What’s your biggest weakness?” honestly, anyways.

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