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Where do job descriptions go to die?

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I wish I could find a lovely place to send job descriptions to die.

You know what I want instead? Job clouds.

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

A job cloud is a lovely, puffy arrangement of projects and functions that need to be completed in order for a company to be successful. Job clouds can overlap across functional areas as the needs of the company change and the people in each cloud can change as their experience and education increase.

So what happens when a new client or project comes on the scene? GO TO THE CLOUD…Ah yes, take a look at all the employees whose availability, personality and current experience makes them a good candidate to successfully engage and offer them the opportunity to participate in something new. GADZOOKS! They might LEARN SOMETHING! You might learn something from them! That’s so crazy.

I know one of my fantastic left-brained friends would want to organize the cloud into tidy project lists and start assigning agendas, building committees and the like, but let’s not over-document the thing. The beauty and the success is in the movement and ever-changing nature of the cloud. I envision implementation to involve something more like a web-based database where employees update their own profile with new skills. Failure to do so means you’re not really interested in contributing in new ways, so maybe you could be encouraged to go to a less interesting company. Managers could update project lists and define necessary education and/or experience for a successful outcome. Employees could apply for projects as they become available and/or managers could proactively seek out talent. Corporate recruiting would focus on strategically identifying gaps between existing talent and upcoming project needs, then bring in new talent or devise training/professional development programs to fill the needs.

That IT guy who barely talks might have an amazing eye for color and/or create ridiculously fresh marketing campaigns. Your recruiter might love numbers and just want to do a little finance sometimes. In the end, you get consistently challenged employees who view their role as making the company successful by contributing in new ways, instead of the “that’s not in my job description” mentality. And maybe it’d be a way of re-labeling some of those so-called bad hires. Maybe the person wasn’t a bad hire, maybe they should be contributing in a different way that originally anticipated. These personnel adjustments wouldn’t be as hard to absorb if a variety of projects were regularly available for assignment.

I know it would take a unique company to be able to transition to this effectively, but I’m a dreamer. Head in the clouds kind of girl here. Still, as people redefine their expectations of the workplace, I think it’s the future.

Embracing Fearlessness!

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I am EXCITED about the jobs, candidates and company cultures that are growing in our economy today!

We’re seeing more clients who are getting ahead of the curve by asking us to reach out to passive candidates (employed people who would consider a new job but aren’t actively looking). When I call a potential candidate they usually say that they’d be interested in hearing about new jobs and are willing to transition. Companies like Zappos are masters at engaging with customers in new ways through social media like Twitter and Facebook.

This is an exciting time for recruiting and hiring and finding a new job! People seem less fearful of bad things happening and more interested participating in making good things happen. Competition is fierce, but creativity is high and it is an exciting time to be working.

What steps have you or your company taken to move your business forward? What are you doing to attract top talent that is now willing to transition to forward-thinking organizations?

Survivor 2010: The Workplace

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This could be a great topic for the next season of Survivor! The inherent drama of the average workplace is just begging for reality coverage beyond the fictional documentary of “The Office.” I can already see the twists – uneven distribution of privileges and power, poorly managed dispersal of important communication, rumors, alliances and backstabbing, challenges, poor nutrition and sleep deprivation, torches…Well, that last one is absolutely necessary to the theme, but probably not OSHA-friendly.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all this drama are a lot of real-life, difficult decisions being made by management and executives. Oddly, many of these difficult decisions aren’t made based upon the ability of an individual to contribute to the success of the company. If a company didn’t have succession planning and/or talent management metrics in place before these decisions became necessary, they likely wouldn’t have time to create them in order to save some of their top talent.

And it’s not just the folks whose jobs are eliminated that suffer as a result. A study by the Institute of Behavioral Science (2003) suggests that “large-scale layoffs often produce damaging psychological and physical effects on survivor’s well-being” and “working in a chronic downsizing environment is worse than single one-time exposure to layoffs.” It would seem that what doesn’t kill you, doesn’t necessarily make you stronger when it comes to downsizing.

There are some good ideas, though, of how to be a true Survivor of Workplace 2009 – 2010. If you’ve been laid-off, there are equally great articles about how to best manage the transition. See below for resources for your situation…

SURVIVOR’S TALE: I was laid off and am braving the job hunt! What now?

SURVIVOR’S TALE: My friend was laid off! How can I help?

SURVIVOR’S TALE: I am still working, at least for today. How do I stay sane?

Clearly, in a climate of mass layoffs and downsizing the winners are the folks who come out of the trenches having embraced the change and maybe with something new! People are embracing market transitions as a chance to learn new skills, gain knowledge in new areas, take risks/create some stability, meet new people and/or give priority to different areas of their lives. How will you be a Survivor?

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