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So far Michael Canic has created 172 blog entries.
30 01, 2017

How We Misjudge a Candidate’s Background When Hiring

By | January 30th, 2017|Right Team|0 Comments

Last week, as part of my 5-week review of what to look for when hiring, I wrote about knowledge & skills. This week, I’ll focus on background.

A chief consideration when assessing a job candidate is the person’s background. Three main areas make up background. Sadly, and typically, one we overemphasize (education), one we misinterpret (work experience), and one we underemphasize (life experience).

Yes, having a degree can tell you certain things, but if there’s one thing that’s become undeniable in recent years it’s that many people have proven extremely capable and accomplished significant things without having a university degree. Anyone heard of Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg?

Ask yourself three questions when considering degrees and certifications: Are they required? Are they preferred? Are they even relevant?

Work Experience
The most misleading part of a person’s background is when they talk about the results they achieved in a previous job. Let’s say a sales manager grew sales by 75% over 3 years. Sounds impressive, right? Maybe not. I want to know if the results were because of the person or despite the person. Did they spearhead the effort, were they a contributor, or did they just happen to be employed when the results occurred? What specifically was their plan and rationale, and what action did they take that directly led to the results? That’s what I want to know.

Life Experience
Drilling down into a person’s life experience can provide compelling evidence for the traits, knowledge & skills, and values that are relevant to the position you’re hiring for. Think of the single mom who raised three kids while getting her degree and working full-time. Or the refugee immigrant who worked two jobs so he could save money and ultimately bring his family over from another country. Or the long-term volunteer who spends much of their non-work time managing groups that help the needy or disadvantaged. In each case, life experience can provide relevant insights.

Yes, it’s important to consider a job candidate’s background. Just make sure you put the right amount of weight, and carefully interpret, what each candidate brings to the table.

Next week I’ll look at values.

Your reactions?


23 01, 2017

Without Know-How and Know-What, There’s No Way

By | January 23rd, 2017|Right Team|0 Comments

Last week, as part of my 5-week review of what to look for when hiring, I wrote about traits. This week, I’ll focus on knowledge & skills.

Successful team members need to show up on Day 1 with a certain level of knowledge (know-what) and skills (know-how). Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean job-specific knowledge and skills. (For many entry-level positions, employers realize if they hire people with the right traits, background and values, they can impart what’s specific to the job.)

Beyond the job-specific, there are two other categories of knowledge and skills that are almost always necessary, even in entry-level positions: interpersonal and self-management.

The interpersonal deals with one’s ability to effectively understand and interact with others. That includes being an active listener and attuned to the needs of others, communicating with the audience and situation in mind, effectively influencing others, and overcoming conflict.

To evaluate interpersonal skills, role-plays can be more effective than simply asking interview questions. It’s one thing for a potential customer service rep to describe how they would handle an upset customer. It’s another altogether for them to role play that situation. A role-play would allow evaluators to assess the candidate’s tone-of-voice, empathy, patience, and so on.

Self-management includes organizing and managing one’s time, activities, and commitments, being aware of and managing one’s emotions, dealing effectively with stress, and maintaining focus when surrounded by distractions.

To evaluate self-management skills, behavioral interviewing can be effective. So can placing a candidate in an environment that mimics the stress, distractions or emotional triggers they are likely to face on the job. And don’t forget to ask them to explain their system for staying organized, how they have modified it over time, and what causes it to break down.

Knowledge and skills are critical to the success of any employee. Not just the knowledge and skills that may first come to mind.

Next week I’ll look at background.

Your reactions?


15 01, 2017

6 Critical Traits to Look for When Hiring

By | January 15th, 2017|Right Team|0 Comments

Last week I wrote about the 4 categories you should consider when hiring: traits, knowledge & skills, background, and values. This week, I’ll focus on traits.

The right traits are critical to the success of the people you hire. Here are 6 traits you want all your team members to have:

1. Team First
Does the person naturally think: What’s best for the team? Are they willing to put the interests of the team ahead of their own? Can they support a decision even if they don’t agree with it? Are they energized when the team wins?

2. Work Ethic
Is the person a hard worker? Are they willing to put in the required time and effort? To go above and beyond? Even when it’s inconvenient? Is doing it right more important than just getting it done?

3. Response to Pressure
Does the person embrace pressure as a challenge or succumb to anxiety? Do they like when others have high expectations of them? Do they thrive under the pressure to achieve, to excel?

4. Response to Adversity
When the person experiences setbacks do they take responsibility? Do they view setbacks as an opportunity to self-reflect and improve? Are they persistent? Are they tenacious? Do they look for what they can influence even if they don’t have total control?

5. Focus
Is the person easily distracted by the irrelevant? Are they able to sustain focus on important tasks? Can they compartmentalize their thinking when many things are happening at once or do they get flustered?

6. Self-Organization
Is the person able to effectively manage their time? Are they able to prioritize their activities? Do they keep track of their commitments and reliably follow-up on those commitments?

A person with the right skills, background and values won’t be a good team member if they don’t have the right traits. Assess these 6 traits using behavioral interviewing and then probe their answers.

Next week I’ll look at knowledge & skills.

Your reactions?


9 01, 2017

4 Things You Should Consider When Selecting Team Members

By | January 9th, 2017|Right Team|0 Comments

What should you look for when selecting a team member? While the specifics will vary by position, there are certain categories that apply in every case. This week I’ll outline the model I use, and in the coming weeks we’ll look more closely at each of the categories.

Traits are a person’s dominant characteristics. For example, when faced with a setback, does a person get tenacious or despondent? Do they take responsibility or point to things outside of their control?

Knowledge & Skills
Knowledge and skills refer to know-what and know-how. Any given position is likely to require some combination of job-specific, interpersonal, and self-management knowledge and skills.

When considering background, we typically default to work experience and, maybe, education. Yet life experiences can be very relevant and may transfer well to the requirements of a given position.

Values are the principles and standards of conduct that a person holds at their core. Understanding a person’s values can provide insight into how they are likely to perform and engage with others.

Again, while the specifics and importance of each category will vary by position, it would be wise to consider all four any time you are selecting a team member.

Your reactions?


2 01, 2017

5 Ways to Think Like a Winner

By | January 2nd, 2017|Right Focus|0 Comments

The New Year is here. Are you reenergized, refocused, recommitted and ready to do what it takes to win? It starts with what’s between your ears. Here are five ways to think like a winner:

Focus Forward
Winners stay focused on what they want to achieve and are committed to achieving. And they make sure that focus is focused. Getting spread too thin undermines focus.

Think “Influence”, Not “Control”
Thinking “control” locks you into binary thinking: Can I control it or not? The game is won in the gray areas. It’s not just about what can you control, it’s about the larger sphere of what can you influence?

Becoming Better beats Being Good
“Being good” is static. “Becoming better” is dynamic. Static is a poor strategy for a changing world. Continually become better. And when you are committed to becoming better you learn from failures, you don’t ignore them.

Success is a Team Sport
If you’re a leader in any organization then achieving success isn’t about you, it’s through you. Develop the right focus, create the right environment, and build the right team so that the team can win.

Be Ruthlessly Consistent
It doesn’t grab headlines but it’s the one trait that makes winners unstoppable. It’s not what you do some of the time, most of the time, or when you feel like it time. It’s what you do all of the time because that’s who you are.

Now, are you ready to do what it takes to win?

Your thoughts?


25 12, 2016

How to Keep Improving, Keep Getting Stronger

By | December 25th, 2016|Right Commitment|0 Comments

In 1962, the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Punch Imlach, knew that his team had to improve to win the Stanley Cup. Prior to the start of the season he wrote to each player requiring they, “… report (to training camp) in good condition … able to do 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, and 30 knee bends.”

How times have changed. As in all fields, the standards for professional hockey players today are a world apart from what they were in 1962. And the bar is incessantly being raised. The need to improve, to grow stronger, is never-ending.

So how can you keep improving, keep getting stronger? Here are four ways (with thanks to leadership expert John Maxwell, whose ideas have helped crystalize my thinking*):

Right People

Friends, colleagues, teachers, mentors. Intentionally or not, the people you associate with will influence your beliefs, values and actions. If you want to keep improving then associate with people who inspire you, who you can learn from, and who help you to grow.

Right Media

You are your media. It’s easy to expose yourself exclusively to mindless media, or media that reinforces your existing beliefs. That’s not a formula for growth. Growth requires exposure to media that stretches you, educates you, and challenges you. Search out those media.

Right Events

Experiencing great events – courses, conferences, and the like – can inspire and shape you in unique and dramatic ways. Determine your improvement goals then commit to always having a next event you will attend.

Right Environment

There’s no question that your environment affects your psychology – how you think, how you feel and how you act. In some environments we flourish; in others we stagnate. Be purposeful. Identify, find or create the environments in which you thrive.

The need to improve, to grow stronger, is never-ending. And that Maple Leafs team that was challenged to report to camp “in good condition”? They went on to win their first of three consecutive Stanley Cups.

Your thoughts?


(* see Maxwell’s article: http://www.success.com/article/john-c-maxwell-how-to-design-an-optimum-life)

19 12, 2016

What Santa Wants You to Know About Building Trust

By | December 19th, 2016|Right Focus|0 Comments

In the original holiday movie classic, Miracle On 34th Street, Macy’s store Santa directs shoppers to rival department stores if they carry items that Macy’s doesn’t. Management, of course, is aghast, and when called to the office of Mr. Macy himself, they understandably fear the worst.

Instead, Mr. Macy recognizes the brilliance of their plan. It turns out that Macy’s has been deluged with phone calls, telegrams and letters from parents expressing their undying gratitude for helping them fulfill their children’s wishes.

“I’ve never done much shopping here before,” says one woman, “but from now on I’m going to be a regular Macy’s customer!”

Mr. Macy declares that he wants not just Santa but every sales person in the store to send customers to rival stores if Macy’s doesn’t carry what they’re looking for.

“No high pressure,” says Macy, “We want to be known as the helpful store, the friendly store, the store with a heart.”

The lesson is as simple as it is powerful: When we sincerely care about and do what’s best for others, when we’re not just self-serving, we connect at a deeper level; we build trust.

Santa knew it all along. And after all, who knows more about trust than Santa?

Your thoughts?


12 12, 2016

No, Culture Does Not Eat Strategy For Breakfast

By | December 12th, 2016|Right Focus|0 Comments

Peter Drucker was the “father” of management consulting. He was an insightful thinker and prolific writer, and his impact on business cannot be overstated. I have great respect for him.

Yet I strongly disagree with something he once said that has been much repeated in recent years: culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Now don't get me wrong. As those of you who follow my blog know, it's not that I think culture is unimportant. Just the opposite. Culture is critical … but it’s not separate from strategy. Determining the type of culture you should have is very much a strategic issue.

Strategy is more than just a mechanistic exercise that looks at products, markets, financials and things of that sort. A strategy blind to culture is a strategy almost certain to fail. Your strategic process should examine your current culture and identify your desired culture – one that is innovative, service-oriented, sales-driven, or whatever you deem necessary.

But there is also a more general sense of culture. Specifically, a culture that is engaged, that connects with hearts, not just heads, that is fueled by want-to-do, not was-told-to-do, is a culture that delivers discretionary effort and exceptional performance. Yet even in this more general sense, choosing to cultivate such a culture is itself a strategic issue.

Strategy without culture is half-baked. Culture without strategy is just an ingredient. But strategy that includes culture is a complete meal.

Bon appétit.

Your thoughts?


4 12, 2016

Why You’re Not as Committed as You Think You Are

By | December 4th, 2016|Right Commitment|0 Comments

I often start a presentation to organizational leaders by asking a question: How committed are you to winning? Unsurprisingly, almost everyone says they’re “totally committed”, “100% committed”, “all-in”, things of that sort.

Of course it’s a set-up. By the time I’ve finished the presentation they realize they’re not nearly as committed as they thought. (And therein lies the opportunity.)

If we look at those who are truly committed, we see what commitment truly looks like. Take Ashima Shiraishi, for example. Ashima is a 15-year-old girl. And it just so happens she is one of the very best rock climbers in the world. She has numerous “youngest ever …” and “first woman ever …” ascents to her name. So how committed is she? For the past nine years (you do the math) she has spent at least four hours, almost every single day, climbing. To improve, to hone her skills, to grow stronger.

Then there’s the grizzled veteran of rock climbing, 23-year-old Adam Ondra. Considered by many to be the finest rock climber ever, Ondra’s training regimen has been described as maniacal: one-to-two hard workouts a day, at least six days a week, for months at a time.

You know when they say, “Don’t work harder, work smarter?” Sure, work smarter. But if you want to be exceptional you’d better work harder too.

And if the prospect of that energizes you, then you’re doing what you should be doing, what you love to do.

So, how committed are you to winning?

Your thoughts?


28 11, 2016

Why Leaders Should Be Like Scientists

By | November 28th, 2016|Right Focus|0 Comments

If there’s one thing the growth of business analytics has made clear it’s that leaders need to think increasingly like scientists.

Consider Booking.com. Founded in the Netherlands in 1996, they are the world’s largest accommodation booking site. In addition to hotels, Booking.com offers over 6.6 million non-hotel locations – over three times as many as a company that generates a lot more buzz: Airbnb.

Booking.com’s innovation-driven culture is fueled by research-based decision-making and employee empowerment. Their development team is given wide latitude and conducts up to 1000 experiments daily (!) to test the subtle nuances of website content, design and features. Using a controlled “A/B protocol” each experiment tests one option against another to see which if either results in more bookings.

CEO Gillian Tans explains, “The quickest way to innovate successfully is to make lots of little mistakes on your way to getting it right. If you’re afraid of failure … you’ll never test out those crazy, off-the-wall ideas that may actually be genius. We celebrate failure because it’s a moment for us all to learn.”

Scientists speak of hypotheses. You have assumptions, beliefs, and hunches. Business analytics is the practice of systematically testing those through what scientists call controlled experiments. The outcomes of those experiments allow you to develop approaches or, using science-speak, theories about which actions are likely to lead to which outcomes and why.

“Even if you think you know what the customer wants,” says Tans, “you need to follow what they actually do to be sure.”

In other words, don’t guess, be a scientist.

Time for you to put the lab coat on.

Your thoughts?