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My dad was disabled and might not be hired today. Who else are we missing?

10 Feb

In 1941 at the age of seventeen my father, Lenny, was diagnosed with arthritis. He fought the disease valiantly, but complications from the condition took him from us at age sixty-three.

In the forty years of his working life he took over the family clothing store and started other businesses. He was active in many charities, and after he died the United Way in our hometown named the “volunteer of the year” award after him.

He had tremendous empathy for people, including those who experienced hard times. I don’t know if his own pain caused him to be more kind.

But he was kind.

And, by the way, he was an imperfect but awesome dad.

There were many days when he came home and I knew he was in tremendous pain. He had two hip replacements; his first was in the early 1970’s when that was still a rare procedure.

Those barely slowed him down.

~ Are there hiring managers out there today who would give a seventeen-year-old kid with arthritis a chance?

~ Can we look past the disability to see the potential, to see the abilities and possibilities?

~ Could we consider the assets, the perspectives, that people with a disability can bring to an organization?

It’s time for us to create workplaces where folks with disabilities can work, can thrive and, in doing so, help us thrive.

#disability #inclusion #leadership

A lesson in leadership from a seemingly unlikely place.

8 Feb

Our son, who is on the autism spectrum, has been living in a group home managed by Hammer Residences, Inc.. For the last eleven years the agency has been named as one of the top places to work in Minnesota.

Eleven straight years.

Being named on this list for eleven years, folks, isn’t by luck or chance.

It’s about leadership.

Compassionate leadership.

The point of view of the agency is that if they create a caring work culture that engages and inspires their employees that the residents will be served better.

And that’s EXACTLY what is happening.

More broadly, it is yet another example of how great leadership, in any sector or industry, makes a difference.

It makes a difference for those employed.

It makes a difference for those the employer serves.

And I would argue in makes a difference for the community.

Compassionate leadership matters.

On a personal note, last Friday our son, his house mates and the staff that serves them (heroes in my book) were given their first COVID-19 vaccination. Gratitude to the State of Minnesota for prioritizing these groups.

#leadership #compassionateleadership

Job Search Tip: Evaluate the safety culture of prospective employers.

7 Feb

There was an article in the newspaper about a woman who was recently invited for an in-person job interview. She thought it went well, but didn’t get a call back.

She followed up and found the position had been filled. When she asked why they hired someone else, they said: “When you came in for an interview you wore your mask the entire time. We thought you might be one of those people who will complain about every safety issue.”

Each of us will need to make a decision about what kind of work environment for which we will feel comfortable. In the case above, the woman was actually relieved she found out that their values regarding safety weren’t the same as hers, and went onto her next career opportunity.

I used to work for a utility that highly valued safety, and I never felt unsafe when I worked there. That was important to me, so in that case my values and the values of my employer were aligned.

Use online resources to understand the safety culture of a prospective employer. Additionally, you can use networking skills to gain additional insights.

Do your homework. Find a job that is right for you in an environment and culture that fits what is important to you.

#jobsearch #hiring #career

You can travel two job search tracks.

6 Feb

As a guy who grew up in a railroad town, I learned there was more than one track that can get you where you want to go. When it comes to your job search, you too can have more than one track.

Here are examples of job search tracks:

~ Same job, same industry.

~ Same job, different industry.

~ Different job, same industry.

~ Different job, different industry.

~ Self-employment.

With each of these tracks you would develop a different plan, approach different networking contacts, research different topics, and prepare your communications differently. For example, with “different job, same industry” you might use a functional resume to highlight your strengths, where with “same job, same industry” a more traditional chronological resume might be fine.

You could have two tracks to your job search, and can advance both at the same time.

Determine your goals. Make your plan. Do your homework. Tell your story.

The Silver Goblet Syndrome—know what folks value when you want to recognize and reward them.

4 Feb

Years ago I worked at a company that offered a monthly recognition program for which I was eligible. If you achieved the monthly goal you were given a very nice gift…

A pewter goblet.

Let me be clear– it’s a really nice goblet.

The problem was that goblets really weren’t an award I valued.

They collected dust in our basement, and we eventually donated them to charity.

So, why did we receive pewter goblets?

In this case, the manager who administered the program really liked pewter. He and his wife had a lot of pewter in their home, and those goblets fit wonderfully there. He projected his liking pewter onto the rest of the team. His intentions were honorable, but because I didn’t share the same interests the reward, given with all the right intentions, wasn’t inspirational to me.

When possible, provide rewards that are meaningful to participants in terms of what they value. This can be done by asking participants what is meaningful to them and offering greater choices.

#ThankYouThursday #recognition  #appreciation #gratitude #grateful #inspiration

JOB SEARCH TIP: Do the best you can in this new world of virtual interviews to minimize distractions.

3 Feb

Even with your best intentions, video interviews can go badly, as expressed by this post I saw on a social media platform.

I had a chuckle.

Having said that, I do hope the interviewer on the other side will offer this person a bit of grace in the midst of our current challenges.

Do what you can to prepare your environment for an upcoming interview, working to minimize distractions– pets, children, posters or other items in the background or outside your door that could take attention away from you telling your story…

… and spouses.

#jobsearch #interviewing #hiring

Seeing possibility, not disability—Paul’s story.

2 Feb

I grew up a few doors from Paul in North Platte, Nebraska. I saw him every Saturday morning at our local bowling alley. He was in a league with folks with disabilities. My league shared the bowling alley.

I don’t ever remember Paul talking to anyone. I saw no evidence of expressive communication skills.

He did have some receptive communication skills, responding to things such as “it’s your turn to bowl, Paul.”

Although he couldn’t communicate very well, Paul was a remarkable bowler.

The pins were no match for his skill.

Paul was better than most at the Cedar Bowl.

To be sure, Paul had an intellectual disability.

But he also had a talent.

I keep thinking about how many times we miss the talents of people like Paul.

Can we see the possibility in folks like Paul instead of the disability?

Can we find ways for folks like Paul to apply their talents to our workplace and, in doing so, revel in having a job and making a contribution?

Folks with disabilities were some of the first who lost jobs this last year and will struggle more than most to return to work. We must act to buck this trend.

Let’s commit to creating workplaces that work for everyone.

#inclusion #disability


1 Feb

Donald O. Clifton, the grandfather of positive psychology, offered a simple formula for establishing meaningful, productive relationships:

“It’s when A does something for B for B’s own good, with no expectation of return.”

He continued: “When you expect a return, there’s a catch that impacts the relationship. Having said that, when you do invest without any expectation of return you almost always get a return.”

In the research from my friend and colleague Brad Shuck, we find this principle applies to being an effective leader today.

Compassionate Leadership Model, by Dr. Brad Shuck

We must invest.

We need to have a return, to be sure.

But if our relationships with our team is such that we expect them to give back to us to the exact degree we invest we’re not going to get anywhere.

With new employees, we invest more, at least in the short term.

With an employee who is considering an internal move, we invest in helping the associate find ways they can continue to grow and achieve their goals, even though that may impact our team productivity for a time.

In this challenging world, investing in our people in a way that meets this spirit of Dr. Clifton’s definition is the leadership approach we sorely need.

#engagement #compassionateleadership

Job Search Advice: Don’t take what you do well, maybe exceptionally well, for granted.

31 Jan

I was conducting a workshop with a group of people who had lost their jobs because of a plant closure. They all knew and worked with each other. I had given the group an exercise for each person to think about their successes at work, which can provide insights into strengths.

One gentleman couldn’t think of any. His colleagues all jumped in to remind him of several successes he had. He told the group he “just thought that was what he was supposed to do in his job.” Although that may have been true, his friends reminded him he did those things very well!

You may have done some things for so long that you don’t realize how special that ability could be to another employer:

~ Think about your successes, where you received recognition from others, won a contest or had a “personal best”.

~Take time to get feedback from others about your successes. Have them look at your resume to determine if there’s something missing that would be valuable to another employer.

What you’ve achieved in your prior work could be the exact kind of work another employer is looking for, so spend time thinking about your successes, even those you may consider modest.

Just like my herb plants, bend toward the light.

30 Jan

To keep myself occupied and out of the hair of Mrs. Hirschfeld, I planted an herb window garden. Included in my assortment are the “Simon and Garfunkel” combo—parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

The fledgling plants bend.

They bend toward the sun.

Toward the light, which helps them grow and thrive.

If you’re in the job search, you too should bend toward the light, toward what will help you thrive.

Bending toward the light will mean something different for each of us, but here are a few ways:

~ Get a coach and some good friends who will provide encouragement, guidance and inspiration,

~ Network, network, network. Interacting with new contacts can be difficult, but most often is positive and affirming.

~ Work hard on your search, AND take time to recharge. I find being in nature is helpful, but others it might be a good book or a satisfying movie.

~ Your “bending” may also mean you avoid negative people. That isn’t often easy, but think about who brings you light and who causes darkness.

~And don’t forget you can bring light to others, including .fellow job seekers

It can be a long and challenging road to securing a new job. Spend your time bending toward the light.