Chrissy Petri

Wellness in the Workplace

When do you feel you are at your most productive at work and in everyday life?

I bet it’s when you feel good – when you feel your best. If people feel healthy, then they are happier and have better attitudes – all of which make them better at work!

Here are some simple things that can make you feel your best at all times.

Food 

The better you eat, the better you feel.  If you honestly look at what you eat and how you feel afterwards, you might change some things.  Here are three simple things you can do today that don’t require anything special:

  1. Eat breakfast.  It really doesn’t take much. I personally like protein first thing in the morning and eat spinach and scrambled eggs every morning and it takes 5 minutes.  Other good options: toast with peanut butter (wholesome bread and natural peanut butter are key), oatmeal (watch the sugar), yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, cereal with milk.  If you really are stretched, then keep healthy bars at your desk at work. Many studies have shown that people who eat a good breakfast maintain the healthiest weights.
  2. Stay hydrated during the day.  If you are feeling sluggish, tired and/or hungry, first try some water and I bet you will feel better.  Many people are chronically dehydrated and this is a quick fix.  Water is best but even I struggle with too much plain water so I add a splash of cranberry juice.  Try to stay away from full strength juices, sodas, etc. as they add a lot of calories and unnecessary sugar which will make you slump all over again.
  3. Use a salad plate to eat dinner.  It is automatic portion control and you won’t miss it.  Your eyes only know that it is a full plate, and, trust me, it’s enough food for you.

ExerciseWellness at Work

You knew I was going to say it!  You don’t have to do a hardcore 60 minute workout to have the benefits.  Just do something…the old sayings of “bodies in motion stay in motion and energy begets energy” are so true.  If you are active, you have more energy.  And studies all show how activity improves brain function, memory, productivity, hormone changes, etc. etc.  Hopefully in addition to your workouts, make activity part of your everyday life…

  1. Park your car furthest from the entrance at work and get a little walk in.
  2. Strength training is important and easy!  In your cube, you can
      
    Push-ups - put your hands on your desk, feet on the floor and go.
      
    Squats - feet wider than hips, and put the weight in your heels. 
      
    Sit on a stability ball - a conversation starter which helps with core strengthening.
  3. Get up from your desk once an hour – talk to a colleague, use a bathroom on the other side of the floor…just walk around and stretch a little

Stress Relief

Here are the key things that help me control the stress in my life.

  1. Sleep – get it and get enough!  I’m good for 8 hours a night…and I plan for when I need to go bed based on when I will get up (which is pretty consistent).  Make sure you wind down and relax before going to bed.  Turn off the TV, the computer, etc. and relax.
  2. Organize – three key areas to organize that will make your life easier:
       a.  Your In/Out of the house routine – everything should have a home when you walk in the door.
       b.  Getting dressed – if your closet is organized, you should be able to get dressed in less than 5 minutes.
            Tip: only have things that fit and look great and put in them in order.
       c.  Cooking – Make sure things are logically in place and everything has a home.
            I pre-package grapes, snacks, etc. to make it quick.
  3. Have some fun! Call or meet your friends, touch base with family, keep up with your hobbies, play a sport, etc.  Do things you enjoy and you will naturally relax and feel good.  Studies show that even introverts gain energy from reaching out to other people.
About the Author: 

Chrissy Petri is an Account Manager for MATRIX Resources with 15+ years in the IT recruiting industry in Atlanta. She works with small, medium, and large companies to find IT talent from Help Desk to Programmers to Project Managers and Directors.

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Fun
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Are Your Employees Getting Ready to Quit?

Are your employees getting ready to quit?  When did you last think that was possible?  My guess is that it has been a couple of years, because you figured there were no jobs out there.  The job market certainly hasn’t been good and it was risky for someone to leave a position for an unknown situation.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the tables are turning.  The market is picking up and we are seeing employees that have put up with salary/bonus cuts, reduced benefits, longer hours, constantly changing management and a stop to all new development/projects making the decision to move.   They now have choices.  I am not saying that we are back to the .com days (unfortunately!) where employees are readily jumping ship and salaries are rising like crazy, but I believe that there is going to be a lot of movement of talent in the next year.

An article in The Wall Street Journal from May 26, said that,

“in February, the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October, 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Before February, the BLS had recorded more layoffs than resignations for 15 straight months, the first such streak since the bureau started tracking the data a decade ago.”

Later in the article, it gave this statistic, “in a poll conducted by human resources consultant Right Management at the end of 2009, 60% of workers said they intended to leave their jobs when the market got better.”  The article also talked about employees feeling disengaged and having less satisfaction in their jobs.  Now, this data is for all positions and on a national basis, but 60%?  That’s a lot.

At MATRIX, we always talk to our candidates about why they are leaving and ask them if they have discussed those issues with their manager – especially if the main issue is money.  We usually hear something like, " there is nothing they can do…they tell us all the time there is no money for anything…they have been laying everyone off, I can’t ask for anything."  They feel so beaten down and so sure that there is nothing their company can do that they are not even trying.

The article mentioned that Dice.com, a job board for tech professionals, asked what a company could do to persuade them to stay and 57% said there is nothing the company could do, 42% said higher salary and 11% wanted a promotion.  Sounds like there is nothing you can do, right?  I don’t think so….

Candidates are being picky and patient in their job search - and I think they are looking beyond the money – contrary to what is mentioned above.  They are looking for growth opportunities, challenges, new technology, flexible work hours, reduced commute time, a strong peer group and a leadership team they can believe in.

You have competition now for your best talent, but you have the first right/opportunity to keep them and hopefully strengthen your relationship.   Will you wait for them to resign, or be proactive?  If you would offer something when they resign, why not move forward now and show that you are thinking about their best interests and showing them that they are important to the company?  Waiting for someone to resign and offering a counter is not a good idea….not for you, the employee, or the rest of the team that watches this happen.  It doesn’t have to be just about money, although that can be key if folks are making less now than two years ago.

HP recently reversed its 5% mandatory pay cut, and I have other clients that have given pay raises to those that excelled during this time (and who they were able to hire during the downturn at a lower salary).  Other choices might be telecommuting one day a week, increased benefits, extra days off (especially if they worked long hours to cover for laid off workers), or finally getting to do that training they have been asking for. Or maybe a lunch hosted by the company that thanks them for all that they have done and communicating what is coming up, what challenges are still there and how you are hoping they will stay with you and be successful together. If you didn’t handle things well, maybe you should admit it and tell/show how you are getting back on course.  Be careful, though, this had better be genuine….we all know the fake rah-rah when we hear it!

I wrote a previous blog about keeping your best talent, and I think now is a good time to look at your team, understand what motivates them and be a true leader.  Communicate and try to understand things from their side and hopefully meet their needs as best you can while you have the opportunity.

Replacing a top performer is expensive, time consuming, and risky. You and your team will be distracted with interviewing, training, and closely managing this new person.   It is certainly a lot more expensive to hire a new employee than to motivate and reward a current one.

So – think about it….what can you do?

About the Author: 

Chrissy Petri is an Account Manager for MATRIX Resources with 15+ years in the IT recruiting industry in Atlanta. She works with small, medium, and large companies to find IT talent from Help Desk to Programmers to Project Managers and Directors.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager
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Hiring the Right Person – Assessing their Soft Skills

We all make bad hires.  I had been recruiting for 5 years when I hired my first full-time babysitter and she ended up failing the background check.  To me, she seemed to have all the right experience and answered all my questions really well. But after all that, it turned out we didn’t share the same value system.  I should have asked more about “her,” than her experience.

So, how can you do this in an interview?  It’s tough…but here are a few tips that might help assess whether you’re making the right hire for your open position.

When looking at a candidate’s communication skills, ask interview questions that have open-ended answers and in a format that requires they explain the situation, what they did, and the outcome.  A key thing to look for is whether they can describe it in a way that you can understand, and whether they are constantly using jargon that your business folks won’t understand.

In assessing problem solving skills, ask them to tell you about a problem and step through how they handled it.  Again, look at how they walk through the problem, describe the solution, and assess the results. 

To see if they are a team player, ask them to describe a really difficult person they worked with and how they handled the situation.  Have them tell you about their current team dynamics and how they could work better (positive/negative? take responsibility for own attitude/actions?). 

You will see a lot of their interpersonal skills throughout the interview, but ask them to tell you about a time when they used humor to diffuse a situation (especially if your team jokes around a lot).

To see if they will give good customer service, ask them to describe a time when a situation did not go as planned and how they communicated the negative news to the client. 

To determine if they have good leadership skills, ask about how they handled a time when they asked a team member to complete a task a certain way and they did it well, but not according to instructions. 

In listening to the responses of candidates above, you will see certain traits come out:    

  • Attitude –Are they upbeat and did they have generally positive responses and feelings about different situations? 
  • Accountability/Ownership - Do they take responsibility for their tasks, attitude, actions, and results?
  • Sense of urgency - Did they arrive on time, ask about next steps, and show interest in moving forward?
  • Attention to detail – Are their answers descriptive and thorough without being too much?
  • OrganizedDo they follow a logical process when describing problems solved?
  • Ability to handle criticism – If the situation was negative, did they adapt and learn?
  • Flexibility – Were they able to take on new tasks, change direction, and adapt to another’s needs? 
  • Honesty/Integrity – Did they resolve their problems with integrity and communicate honestly with others?
  • Listening – Did they ask follow-up questions about the job/company etc. that shows they were listening?
  • Follow-through – Did they send a thank you note or complete something that you asked for?
  • Preparedness – Did they research the company/job/you before the interview and ask relevant questions?

Finally, it is good to understand their personal interests and motivations.  My favorite question of all time – and one that I find hard to answer myself – “If money was no object, what would you do?” 

We have a saying in our business that “there is a seat for every person” (we use a different term, but person suffices).  You could interview all day long, ask all the right questions, and still get a bad hire.  Hopefully, though, when you drill down on their technical/functional skills and you learn what makes them tick, you should be able to avoid the dreaded “90-day action plan” to remove your bad hire and repair your damaged team.   

Good luck!

About the Author: 

Chrissy Petri is an Account Manager for MATRIX Resources with 15+ years in the IT recruiting industry in Atlanta. She works with small, medium, and large companies to find IT talent from Help Desk to Programmers to Project Managers and Directors.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager
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Finding the Right Person for Your Open Position

It seems like it should be so easy. Maybe you want to find someone just like the one leaving. Maybe you’re thinking thank goodness that person left and are looking for just the opposite. Or maybe you just created the position.

I love my clients that call and say "I need a guy." My response, "Okay, I know this guy…he’s good....." And, maybe he is, but is he good at what you want? So, I need a little more than that to find your guy – or gal as it may be.

The easiest thing to do is to create a list and use it to evaluate candidates by adding a second column to note whether they miss, meet or exceed your requirements. It will make everything so much easier and it will keep your interviews consistent and somewhat objective. Also, write down what the person will be doing – projects that are available now and in the future and the core responsibilities. This helps keep your message consistent.

Okay – so the easiest part is the list of hard skills required/expected. Here are some ideas.

Skills required – required, preferred and alternate skills. Please do not list everything your team uses as a requirement. There is nothing crazier than reviewing a position that has a list of 20 skills. I mean, really? Did the other successful folks on your team walk in with all those skills? For most positions, just concentrate on the key languages and concepts. If they are good in those, then they can learn the rest.

Degree required – Is it necessary and why? I have a lot of managers who feel that the experience of college makes them a little different, or maybe the concepts/theories that you don’t learn on-the-job make them better. If you require it, just understand why in case you come across that great candidate that doesn’t have it. I see too many companies that close the door on a great candidate that didn’t get the opportunity to complete a degree or didn’t have the resources to go to a top school. It may be that your experience has taught you one way or the other, but try not to make too many assumptions about the person based on the degree.

Prior experience – what will this person have done in their past that will make them good for you? Do they need certain industry, application or company experience? Maybe they came from a small, medium or large company? Maybe they worked for a competitor? Maybe they have worked in a lot of different places and might be able to bring some new ideas to your team? I would look at the successful people on your team and try to see if and what prior experience made them better than the rest.

Travel – how much will be required? Southeast? National? International?

Hours – Telecommuting options – this is an area where you need to be clear and consistent. Candidates may have limitations or your company may have certain requirements. You may have flexibility but don’t promise too much to lure in a candidate. If your team consistently works 60 hours a week, you need to share that. If you don’t, you’ll invest time and money in a new hire who will later quit and it will cost you more time and more money.

Compensation - know the details such as salary, bonus and benefits. Also – are there things that candidates can trade? I have negotiated offers with a lower salary but more vacation or a telecommuting option. It is good to know what flexibility you may have for a great person.

Next time I'll talk about the tougher skills, the subjective stuff, the soft skills.

About the Author: 

Chrissy Petri is an Account Manager for MATRIX Resources with 15+ years in the IT recruiting industry in Atlanta. She works with small, medium, and large companies to find IT talent from Help Desk to Programmers to Project Managers and Directors.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager
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