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The Cat Ate My Blog

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on October 5, 2011

It has been a seriously long time since I blogged.  I was thinking it was two years but then I checked and it’s even worse than that.  I’ve actually been feeling guilty about it for probably two years….and Meg’s nudges never seem to work either.

So first, I was just super busy.  Fair enough, right?

Then, I was “regular-busy”, no excuse.  But the stuff I was working on was ….um…how do I say it….super frustrating.  You know, TPS reports and stuff like that.  Nothing I wanted to blog about unless I wanted to rant which, wouldn’t reflect well on anyone. I hope I am not bursting your bubble.  Did you think that we are all happy faces and sunshine over here all the time?  If so you are talking to too many people from product strategy. You’d actually be surprised at how many TPS reports go into making the awesome software that we make…just ask the product managers.

Right, so, even when I wanted to blog, I was basically too crabby to do it.

Meg tried to throw some nuggets out.  I would ignore them and then feel guilty.  And here is the interesting part (I should try to put the interesting parts closer to the beginning…and I should probably try to have more of them).  Anyway – back when I was blogging, I made it a “goal” to blog.  So I did it.  I am really all about crossing things off the list.  But then it slipped off my goals, for lack of me or anyone else really caring.  So I stopped doing it.  I guess this could be a blog about “make it a goal and it will get done” but that’s too obvious.

Now, once a year has passed and you stop blogging, it’s hard to start again.  This is pretty much like exercising, however, I actually do exercise 5-6 days a week and have done so for that past ten years.  I track it on a spreadsheet.  I hate when one of my boxes on my spreadsheet is empty. I sometimes cheat by putting things like “walking around on vacation” in the box and calling it exercising.  But if I ever had more than two empty boxes in a row, I fear it would be too easy to just stop exercising forever, so I make sure I don’t have two empty boxes.  Unless I’m sick – then I get to put a little Excel-comment in the box explaining my illness.  So you can see how once I had so many days-without-blogging in a row that it just trailed into forever.

The point of this blog is just to START again.

As a side note I’m now slightly annoyed at having to relearn how to insert this really cute picture of my cat that I want to use. I also had a minor freak out moment when I saved a draft and did a preview and what I saw on the screen made it look like the thing had posted to the blog.  I actually went to my other laptop to convince myself it hadn’t really posted.  See, if I would do this more regularly I would be better at it.  This has taken me about an hour to write and that’s just wrong for a blog.  I need to be faster so it’s less painful and I can do it more often.

And now….I’m going to go make a spreadsheet to track my blogging.

Posted in goals, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Pirates: on the bleeding edge of HR practices in the 1700’s

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on April 2, 2009

treasureI recently attended the Real Pirates exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago.  The exhibit tells the story of the ship Whydah, from it’s beginnings as a slave ship to it’s days as a pirate ship.

One section of the exhibit discussed the pirate “recruiting techniques”.  Apparently for the non-pirate ships, the work was grueling and the pay was bad.  Enter the pirates, with larger crews, the promise an equal share of the bounty, and all the rum you care to drink!  Brilliant recruiting techniques, aren’t they? And what a way to ensure employee engagement!

It wasn’t all fun and games.   Injured limbs were cut off without anesthesia, and if there was no doctor on board, the carpenter was called into action.  It scares me to think of the carpenters working at my house having to perform a medical procedure…..but what a versatile skillset!

As an early form of disability pay, a pirate received extra share of the bounty based on injuries or loss of limbs.

Pirate crews also had diversity before diversity was cool.  A single crew mixed men from Europe, North America, Native Americans, and Africans (many escaping slavery).  This naturally made me curious about women pirates– and a quick Google search found a few.  Two in particular are rumored to have dressed as men to be accepted (thus paving the way for the 80’s trends in women’s business attire).

The punishment for piracy was death by hanging.  Good news for our financial industry that this one did not carry forward to modern times.

Posted in hr | 2 Comments »

Merit pay at the Vatican and practicing Correctitude

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on November 14, 2008

Kathi at the Vatican

It’s been about a year since the Vatican announced it’s new merit pay system.  I have to admit, the initial announcement slipped by my radar.  But now that it’s been brought to my attention, I’m fascinated.  I took a look at this article, describing the changes.

“The system will take effect January 1.  But, characteristically for an institution that “thinks in centuries”, it will be introduced only gradually.”

 So, ten months have gone by.  They’ve probably started down the path, I assume.   I’m curious to know how that’s going, how they are handling the change.

Some of the things they are measuring:  Dedication, professionalism, productivity, politeness.  Politeness?   Uh oh, I know some people at my company that are going to be in trouble if that one catches on as a goal.

Other articles have, instead of politeness, listed this goal as “correctitude”.  Maybe “politeness” is just a bad translation from Italian ?  Whew, let’s go with that.  Then what exactly is correctitude, and do we need that in our workplace?  Well I found this:

Correctitude: Appropriate manners and behavior; propriety.

….which is probably sufficiently vague to serve as a good performance goal. (I’m kidding, Justin!).  

I’m still having trouble figuring out the proper behavior to achieve this goal.  But what about this:

Political correctitude: avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude or marginalize or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

And a synonym to this is “political correctness”.  That’s more like it.  I think I have sufficiently translated this to English.

One small problem for me.  Earlier in this post I may have insulted or marginalized people who are socially disadvantaged in terms of not having the ‘politeness’ skill.  Which means I have demonstrated a lack of political correctitude.  I clearly have some work to do in this area.

Posted in goals | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Anti-social girl joins Twitter

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on October 29, 2008

I joined Twitter last week.  Now, I’ve gone on record as being anti-social, so this didn’t seem like something I would like.  I’m only following 15 people so it’s pretty quiet so far.  But here is what I have observed:

Twitter is like working in cubicles.

You know how in cubicle-land you are intently focusing on your work, and then you hear the person in the next cubicle start talking on the phone?  That is the ‘beep’ of twitter:   Hello!!!  Bring your attention HERE, right now!

You look at the tweet, and you see a one-sided conversation.  But wait!  Twitter improves on that.  You can go find the other side of the conversation.  So instead of being annoyed at your co-worker who is interrupting your focus by discussing something trivial very LOUDLY on the phone – you can now hear BOTH SIDES of the trivial/loud conversation!  Great, huh?  Please note that NONE of the fifteen people I am following are having annoying conversations.  I just said that for dramatic effect.  The people I follow are always interesting.

These eavesdropped conversations are sometimes even work-related.   Even better, if you don’t understand something the person is referring to, they will include URL’s with more information.  Now that’s something you can’t get from eavesdropping through the cubicle wall!

And if you are really interested, you can just butt in to the conversation.  Imagine doing that to your cubicle neighbor.  But in Twitter, the person expects and encourages you to eavesdrop.  Cool.

Twitter also improves upon cubicle land by allowing everyone to talk to themselves while they work, and have their mumblings be heard across the entire office floor and beyond.   When your crazy-talks-to-himself coworker mumbles from his cubicle “why won’t these numbers on the spreadsheet add up?”, he doesn’t expect an answer does he?  But in Twitter, he gets responses.  Someone may just commiserate– “I hate spreadsheets too”.  Another person may offer help –“here try this cool tool for fixing spreadsheets”.   Another may just distract him from his miseries — “free tacos at Taco Bell today!”

I don’t currently work in a cubicle, but I spent many years doing so early in my career.  I also had some worse-than-cubicle experiences as a consultant.  Cubicles for all their faults (lack of privacy, distractions) had some real benefits (collaboration, sense of belonging, “knowing what is going on”).

If, like me, you had a love/hate relationship with cubicles, then you may want to give Twitter a try.  I’m going to stick it out.  Here’s hoping more than ten people decide to follow me.

Posted in social network | 11 Comments »

Performance Evaluations and Goal Setting for Chicago Cops

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on August 13, 2008

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago police officers will soon be subjected to performance evaluations. While reading this article, I had to double-check that I wasn’t reading The Onion.

The reason for implementing the evaluations? It seems there is a concern that due to the rise in violent crime, police officers are less able to focus on less serious crimes.

“Because cops are focusing on violent crime, arrests have slipped for less serious crime like disorderly conduct, trespassing and public drinking, Cuello said. Arrests for violent crimes do not seem to have fallen as much, she said.”

Well, this seems understandable, doesn’t it? Officers are arresting the violent criminals. These are the ones we want to be arrested. It seems OK to me to let the public drinkers get a pass? I mean, sure, I’d rather not have to deal with the drunk guy yelling obscenities at me, but I prefer that to, you know, being murdered.

I’m trying to imagine their goal setting process. We’ve all speculated about the traffic ticket quotas which may or may not exist. Imagine adding quotas for other types of arrests. “Arrest 20 trespassers and 10 crazy naked guys running on the street per quarter”

Anyway I see this problem in another light. It’s really a problem of succession planning. Violent crime is up. Petty criminals are being “promoted” to the serious crimes. Yet they haven’t groomed a successor. Perhaps this is due to declining gang activity, which may also be a problem that needs to be addressed. Until the criminal community properly ensures a continuous flow of crime, of ALL types, not just the violent ones, the Chicago police officers’ evaluation system is doomed to failure.

Or, I don’t know, maybe the goal should be REDUCE CRIME and not INCREASE ARRESTS? Just an idea.

Posted in goals, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Kathi’s 8 Things

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on July 22, 2008

It’s taken me awhile to come up with my list. My colleagues are just so much more interesting than I am!

1. I was born in Northwest Indiana; I grew up in Northwest Indiana; I currently live in Northwest Indiana. See – I’m not kidding about being boring. I did branch out and live in Chicago for four years – which is about 40 miles away, quite an adventure which required crossing a state line! Also spent a couple of years sampling apartments in various suburbs of Chicago. So I have used every mode of public transportation in what we call “Chicagoland” in order to get to my jobs in downtown Chicago. That was back in the days when I actually had to commute to work. Now I walk three steps from my bedroom to my office.

My mom lives less than 2 miles from me. My sister lives about 3 miles from me. And my brother lives about 4 miles away. It’s nice having family nearby.

2. Growing up I had four imaginary friends. First there is the trio of Candy, Uh-um and Apadasadum, they always hung out together. I am not sure how to spell their names since I didn’t know how to read/write/spell when I met them. The fourth was Danger. He took the heat for anything bad that happened. “Danger did it”.

3. I have an unusual musical background. My mom always wanted me to take piano lessons, which I resisted because I thought it was too nerdy. I seriously don’t know why I thought that would put me over the edge into nerdiness, because the straight A’s and goody-two-shoes behavior already pretty much sealed it. So instead I played the viola (sure, being in orchestra isn’t nerdy!). Viola is unusual because it uses alto clef, which doesn’t help you read music for any other instrument. So you can figure the rhythm but nothing else if you try to read,say, music for a piano.

My other musical skill is handbells. I loved playing in handbell choir at church (no that’s not nerdy either…). I even performed as part of the Purdue University Musical Organizations Handbell choir, and got pretty good at the four-in-hand technique. This was a blast despite the hideous tuxedo-looking, long black skirt /cumberbund/bow-tie uniforms we had to wear.

Oh, and when I was in high school I finally thought it would be cool (sigh, I have no idea what cool is) to learn piano so I took lessons for two years. So I know how to play some very easy songs very poorly. On the bright side, I have the piano that my parents bought for this purpose and one day I’m going to learn how to play it properly (if only the music came in alto clef, I’d be set)!

4. I am skilled in Mirror Writing. I do not know why I can do this.

5. In college, my friends and I came in 2nd place in a lip synch contest.

6. I lived/worked in Munich for a spell back in the mid 90’s. My apartment was a block away from the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. I loved, loved, loved Oktoberfest and spent many nights there over the course of two seasons. It combined a few of my interests such as Beer and Singing Loudly While Standing on a Table. My all time favorite Oktoberfest songs was John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”. One day my friends pooled their money and paid for me to get up on stage and conduct the Oompa band, to, what else…Take Me Home Country Roads.

Also while working in Munich, I was part of the infamous Bleifrei Incident but I am sworn to secrecy on that one.

7. I am a fan of the show The Bachelor (and The Bachelorette). These shows are just so stupid but I really like them. I used to watch the even worse variations such as Joe Millionaire and Average Joe but after a couple of seasons where the bachelor(ette) picked the “wrong” person, I vowed never to watch them again.

8. My stepsons have a Wii. When they first got it, they showed me how to create my own Mii. Seemed fun — so I brought up the default female Mii to start. Hmmm, that looks like me already. That can’t be. So I tried changing some things – nope now it looks less like me. So, yes, I am the default Mii. I did change her to a purple outfit just to jazz things up. See, I told you I was boring!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

I suck as a Deck Project Manager

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on June 11, 2008

I recently posted about my deck building recruiting process. Well, we signed on the dotted line, got the building permit and homeowner’s association approval…and then…we were ready to start the project.

Except. Well, when are we starting, guys? There is no project plan! “Mark”, the account manager said that “Mike” the project manager would be calling me, then “Mark” would follow-up to make sure we talked. OK so I waited. No call from Mike or Mark.

 

I called the office. Next I got a call from “Joe” who is apparently not “Mike” but will be our project manager. He discussed his timeline. And said “weather permitting you should have a deck by Memorial Day”. This was really exciting, but puzzling, as Memorial Day was about three days after Joe’s planned start date. And the timeline included about three days for the concrete to set before starting to build. (It turns out Joe has no idea when Memorial Day is).

Joe promised to come and dig the holes on Tuesday. Didn’t show. Didn’t call. This is where I stepped in and became the project manager of the project manager. I waited until Thursday and then called the office. He got a little annoyed at this. I think that makes him look bad to his boss.

Every time I called Joe, he was just “on his way” to my house. I may not be good at deck project management but I’m sure psychic about it.

So on Thursday, Joe promised to be there “by 11:00”. I was speaking to him at 10:54. He was an hour away. And he had an “hour or two” of work to finish up at his current site. I questioned him a bit on this and he said “Oh, right, so I’ll be there by noon then”. The math still doesn’t quite work but I figure this is a bigger issue than I can solve today. When he wasn’t at my house by 2:00, I called him again. A stranger answered his phone. Told me that Joe was on his way to my house! (really, I’m so psychic it’s amazing). I said “Oh he is? He left his phone behind?” Stranger: “uh…yeah…”

When Joe wasn’t at my house by 4:00, I was worried. I couldn’t call him. After all — he left his phone back at the other site! ;) So I had to call the office and get him in trouble again. He arrived at 4:30. He dug the holes and said he’d be back on Friday to pour the concrete. Friday came and went with no Joe.

The following Monday was Memorial Day (Hmmm, where’s my deck?). It was on this day that we noticed Joe had cut two pipes for the sprinkler system causing sort of a geyser effect from the post holes. I called the irrigation guys to repair it. Now, remember, I know nothing about the deck building process so I figure the deck guys (if/when they show) can “work around this”.

Deck guys show on Tuesday. I explain the sprinkler issue; it will be repaired tomorrow morning. No, they can’t “work around” it. The concrete goes in those holes, all the way to the top of the hole. Oh, to the TOP? Hmmmm. So I sent them away.

Well, the real project manager (Joe), called and chewed me out for this. This is when we stopped being friends, I guess you could say. We had words.

They poured the concrete on Thursday. It needs to set for three days. So we should be ready to start by Monday, right? So far so good…Joe had his “guys” put in the foundation on Monday. But now they needed Joe to do the intricate cuts. I made lots of calls and got lots of excuses and he finally showed up that Thursday to do it. I can’t figure if this is Joe punishing me for our ‘disagreement’ or just another example of his poor scheduling abilities. Because of course I called him that day and said “I was just wondering…” and he cut me off and said “I’m ALMOST at your HOUSE!” (my psychic abilities are starting to get eerie now).

They worked half day Thursday and said they would easily finish by Friday. I thought this odd. It seemed like they had a ton more work to do, but what do I know? At 11am they told us they’d be done by 1:30 at the latest. Yet it turns out they had about seven more hours of work to do. How do they misjudge the work that is sitting right in front of them by that much? And I’m sure some poor woman has been calling them all day asking when they are digging her post holes and they are telling her “we’ll be there in an hour…”

So in the end, our deck was finished around 8pm on Friday. The only remaining issue is the pile of lumber they left in our yard. I called today to see if they wanted it. “Oh yes! The guys were planning to come pick that up today.” Again, I am psychic!

So the experience has me reflecting on my project management skills. It certainly wasn’t smooth, and I’m sure Joe pretty much never wants to see me again. Luckily we won’t be building decks together in the future.

I’m wondering what I could have done better. It strikes me that it’s hard managing a process that you know nothing about. I’ve only previously managed consultants, which is a job that I know how to do. Managing people with talents and skills and responsibilities that are entirely different from your own – that’s hard!

Should I have praised the wood-cutting skills instead of criticizing the communication skills? And is wood-cutting even a skill? I mean, I can’t do it but would he be insulted if I praised something that easy? Maybe “You guys picked out some really nice boards at the lumber yard. Thanks for taking such care in selecting them?” Or “thanks– you really poured that concrete fast” (but how fast is fast?) Or “thanks so much for cleaning up most of the stray nails last night”? I wonder if I would’ve had better results, that way? Problem is I have no way of distinguishing what’s “average” and what’s “exceptional” in their work process.

 

Or maybe because I knew it was a short-term project I didn’t really care about nurturing my relationship with Joe and instead just kept calling his boss and getting him in trouble to suit my own purposes? In which case maybe I’m just a jerk with no empathy? Hopefully Joe doesn’t pass the word on to the painters because that’s the next contractor I need to hire….

So….What are some tips for managing people with skills and talents different from those with which you are familiar? How do you praise them if you don’t know what’s “good”? How do you get them to do the job well if you don’t know how to do that job? And do you know any good house painters in Northwest Indiana?

Posted in management | 7 Comments »

Identity Crisis: GenX? Or Baby Boomer?

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on June 2, 2008

My dad sent me an article the other day. My dad is famous for mailing me newspaper clippings from his local Arizona paper.

The article is titled “GenX is taking over – with rules of its own” (written by Patricia Bathurst). With a subheading: “It’s time for those born between 1965 and 1980 to step up at workplace”. Apparently Dad thinks I am GenX…., that got me thinking… I have never identified myself that way.

GenX “dislike authority and rigid requirements”. This really doesn’t sound like me…I am all about structure and organization. I can’t help but feel a little disconcerted, maybe even insulted, that my father is accusing me of being GenX! Does my own father not even know who I am?!?

So then I dug into the details I’ve been avoiding. Well, in reality I barely missed being a Baby Boomer –by 33 days. I was born 2/2/1965 – the very beginning of GenX! In fact, half of the kids in my class at school would’ve been Baby Boomers, including my best friend born in Nov 1964. And what? The January and February babies were leading the new wave? I hardly think so. At the end of the day, we all sat down to watch the Brady Bunch no matter which group we belonged to.

GenX also apparently has no corporate allegiance. This can’t be me. I’ve just completed fifteen years at Oracle (and PeopleSoft before that). This is only my second job since college and I’ve been out of college a loooong time (you have to do the math yourself on that one).

The article also identifies GenX as developing career “webs” versus “paths” and tending more towards lateral moves, new opportunities versus traditional climbing of the corporate ladder. OK, well, that does sound more like me. I break out in hives whenever I feel that someone is going to ask me for my five year plan. Plan? I don’t have a plan. I just want to do something interesting and challenging. It’s worked out pretty well so far. This might also have to do with my lack of navigational skills.

And somehow GenX was the first wave of technical revolution. I’m sorry I must’ve been outside playing Kick the Can when that happened because I sure didn’t notice it! Well all right. We did get a microwave in the late 70’s. And later a VCR. It didn’t feel like a revolution….

So, I don’t know, I guess I’m a mixture of both. I used technology to find shoes and my husband, but I still cut articles out of the newspaper and show them to friends. I take after my dad (also not a Baby Boomer) that way. I didn’t get a CD player until 1995, an iPod only last fall.

I’m curious how others view their generational “labels”. What do you think? Do you feel like your label (Baby Boomer, GenX, GenY, Millennial) defines you?

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Recruiting Process: Candidate Sourcing and Selection for building a deck

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on April 18, 2008


Now that we’ve had one 70 degree day, my husband and I are interviewing contractors to build us a deck. We started off by searching for a pool of candidates. We had no idea how to approach this.

My husband asked all his buddies what to do and they had no ideas. Most forgot which contractor they used themselves. Finally one friend said to go to the local home improvement store and ask for recommendations.

So, he got a list of three names and called the first one. That would be Candidate #1, Harry who agreed to come to our house the next business day at 5pm. He arrived on time. He showed us a book of sample decks. He gave us a rundown of his experience. He measured; he talked to us about what we wanted. He drew a rough sketch and promised that he’d hand-deliver an estimate the day after tomorrow. He did so, and he phoned to let us know he’d left it in our mailbox. His estimate and design were professional except that we kept saying we wanted either cedar or composite and his estimate was for pine. (Candidate Tip: Listen to your interviewers –don’t just talk)

Meanwhile, we decided we needed some more candidates.

My husband searched online (that’s how he found me…which worked out pretty well). Nothing ‘local’ came up. Hard to believe all these business don’t have websites in this day and age, but we are in Indiana, not exactly the leading edge of technology. Anyway, a few were listed within about 50 miles, across the Illinois state line, and seemed kind of far. Still, one of them had a map showing their service area. The map wasn’t the greatest but some of those blue dots looked like they were in or near our town so I called them and set up an appointment. (Candidate tip: make sure you know where the recruiters are looking for you. Be there.)

None of the other Illinois websites gave any indication of their service area so we skipped them. I imagine Recruiters may sometimes pass over a candidate for a job if they think the candidate lives ‘too far’ away. (Recruiter tip: Don’t eliminate someone because you assume they aren’t interested. Let them tell you.)

So I called this far-away-in-Illinois contractor, candidate #2, Lenny. He came out a few days later, at lunch time. Lenny listened to what we wanted, took some measurements, showed us his book, showed us sample materials. Lenny has a PASSION for deck building. He told us the story of how he got into the business, his love of architecture. He talked us out of some goofy ideas we had about the deck and gave us some better ideas. (Candidate tip: Sometimes it pays not to blindly nod and agree with everything the interviewer says). He talked to us about cedar versus composite and told us about how cellular vinyl is actually the latest ‘fake’ material used in deck building. He helped us decide on material. He didn’t try to sell us; it truly felt like a conversation. He left us with a drawing, an estimate and a business card. He promised my husband he’d get real professional drawings with bill of materials if we select him. This caused my engineer husband to salivate.

The next day we decided we needed more names. Meanwhile I had pulled out the phone book to find the location of health food store to buy a remedy that was recommended to make my cat stop her nocturnal meowing (long story) when it hit me. Hmmmm…I bet there is a Deck section in here! Yes, there was! How old-fashioned is that? My husband kept marveling that “all the people I asked how to find a contractor and no one told me to use the phone book” (Recruiter tip: Don’t overlook ‘old-fashioned’ methods of sourcing candidates). Sure enough we saw ads for Harry and Lenny. And we also found two different Dwaynes. Were it my own choice, I probably wouldn’t have picked a second Dwayne but the same-name thing didn’t seem to bother my husband like it did me. (Recruiter tip: It’s OK to have two Dwaynes).

Candidate #3, Dwayne-the-first, came out another day at lunch time. One of the first things he said “Oh….I probably should have brought my book” (Candidate Tip/ Boy Scout moto: Be prepared). Dwayne did a quick sketch of what I now realize is a weird deck but at the time I liked it. I think because he and I realized we went to the same high school and grew up a few blocks from each other. (Candidate tip: If you aren’t good at your job you might get away with it by schmoozing. For awhile.) Anyway he made a drawing of ‘weird-deck’ but then took it with him so he could remember it (and we couldn’t). He left us with an immediate estimate which was an exact round number, yet no details with that number. (Candidate tip: Give your salary preference in non-round numbers. It appears to have some logic and thought behind it. ;-))

Which brings me to Candidate #4, Dwayne-the-second. He was supposed to come yesterday at 5pm. He called that morning. “I just was informed that I have to attend a function at my daughter’s school” (translation: my wife just reminded me about my daughter’s thing and even though she told me about it weeks ago, I totally forgot and there’s NO WAY I can get out of it).

Dwayne-the-second asked to reschedule for a week out. I said sure. I informed him he is our last guy, so he should come sooner or not at all. (Candidate tip: If you must reschedule, you maintain the appearance that the interview is a priority for you) Dwayne-the-second hasn’t even given me an estimate or drawn a deck (weird or otherwise) yet I already have a negative impression of him. Not good.

Those are all our candidates.

I’ve drawn some conclusions on this process and how it relates to candidate selection. The candidate you select should meet the basic requirements, which of course should be stated in your job posting. We didn’t have a job posting. We didn’t sit down and agree on any criteria ahead of time. We didn’t really have any screening questions. Well, we had a few but we kept forgetting them and didn’t always ask all of them consistently. Our interview usually started with us flailing our arms in the backyard giving our vision of the deck (which probably varied from candidate to candidate depending on whether it was cold outside that day).

We didn’t even have a well thought out plan about how to find our candidates, we just searched willy nilly. Because of our poor Deck-Builder Recruiting Practices we are in danger of making a decision based on subjective versus objective job-related criteria. Namely:

1) We like Harry because he was punctual, polite and professional (how is this related to building a deck?) OK this one is marginal – sometimes those soft skills matter. It feels like it could correlate to getting the job done on time.

2) I spent too much time in the ‘interview’ talking to Dwayne-the-first about people we knew in high school. I like him because he’s ‘like me’. I should have kept the interview more focused.

3) We don’t like Dwayne-the-second because he seems like a flake. He did not make a good first impression.

For these reasons, we chose…….Lenny.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

My social software success story

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on March 20, 2008

It just occurred to me.  I am not as new to social software as I thought.  I was doing some research earlier this week and came across the Wikipedia definition of social software.    I was originally trying to understand social bookmarking.  I’ll probably come back to talk about that experience in another blog….but the point for today is, I was on one of those random explorations through Wikipedia where you click one thing and then another and the next thing you know you are reading about the philosophy of artificial intelligence.  Hmmm, interesting but not why I came here.  And now it strikes me that the social bookmarking may be helpful when I start losing my place, huh? OK yes, like I said, that’s for another blog.

Anyway during this particular stroll through Wikipedia, I came across a  list of social software.  And there I saw it: match.com.   Match.com would’ve been my first foray into social software, I suppose. The year was 2003.  I decided to join just to see what would happen.  My first obstacle was uploading a picture of myself since I didn’t own a camera, let alone a digital one.  I finally decided to use one that my colleague (and Meg’s fashion consultant) had posted from the PeopleSoft User Conference.  Yes, a photo of me standing in the Meet-the-Experts booth with the dorky red “experts” shirt.  Of course I cropped out the actual booth, but still.  It’s a bit sad that the only picture of me is while I am at work, isn’t it?  And thus the reason I had turned to match.com in the first place!

And then I had to write a profile.  Torture!  I think I write the most boring self-descriptions known to man.  Though maybe I need more interesting subject-matter.  In any case, it was a rather drab, yet truthful, description of myself that I posted that day. So for a couple of weeks I fielded some messages from various guys (most of whom were just blindly messaging everyone).  Spelling was atrocious!  I’m sorry but I weeded out a lot of them for using horrible spelling and punctuation.  I mean, if you are going to cut/paste the same lame message to every girl in a 20 mile radius at least do a spell-check on it first.  And take the time to capitalize “I”. 

For my part, I was still a bit clueless on the whole message exchange process.  The messages were sent ‘blind’ but I kept messing up and replying directly, thereby revealing my true email address.  Most guys were pretty cool and pretended not to notice. Hey at least I can spell.  But I guess I established my inability to quickly master social software right from that first experience. So, one day a brief email came in from a cute guy with good spelling.  He thought it was interesting that I developed software for a living. (Again I am a dork.  What kind of a profile is THAT to attract guys?!? Didn’t I learn in college that you never reveal you major in Computer Science in social settings?  Unless it’s Triangle Fraternity.  Those guys were always cool with it. ). 

The guy-with-good-spelling and I wrote back and forth for a week and then he asked if I wanted to meet. I think he was just growing tired of my meandering emails as I’m sure you readers can relate. After my initial panic: meet!?!   So soon?  Well OK, I agreed.  I got to pick the date.  I shot down March 17th because I didn’t want to forever ruin St Patrick’s Day if he was an idiot.  I settled on March 20th.   We met at the local BW3s, a sports bar, where March Madness was underway, as well as the first shots of the Iraq War, which we assumed would be brief in it’s duration. We talked for a few hours, we ended up dating for awhile….

Five years later, he and I still connect online from time to time.  Just the other day I contacted him on video chat.  He was in the kitchen and I was upstairs in my office.  Just checking in with my husband to see how things are going in the lower half of the house.  Yes, that cute guy with the good spelling that I met five years ago is now my husband.  And I owe it all to social software.

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