By Brent M. Jones
You are planning a job interview and doing everything you can think of to get ready. You have done your research, learning about the company’s history and goals, and you know something about the people that likely will be in the interview.
What about the questions they will ask? Do you know what they will be, and are you ready? What about the inevitable questions that always show up in an interview: What are your greatest strengths and what are your weaknesses?
Before you are asked these two questions you should ask them to yourself, giving the most honest answer you can. Your potential employer wants to know if your strengths match the job skills and strengths of the potential job. Do they really match? If they don’t, you should reconsider, because you will do better, and be far happier, if they match.
What about your real weaknesses? Do you know what they are, and will they be a problem in the position your applying for? The potential employer will not hire you if they see that you’re not aligned with the needed requirements.
Identifying your own shortcomings requires some real personal honesty, but even that can be a trap. People sometimes are tempted to just congratulate themselves for their honesty and move on. When asked about their weaknesses they just repeat their assessment, expecting to be congratulated for their honesty. Truth is better served by considering the context that these questions are presented. If your weak areas have no relevance to the job they may not belong in the interview. If your weakness is a potential roadblock in meeting the needed job skill requirements, then some focus and thought will be needed before the interview. In those cases, present the weak area with your successful steps in overcoming it. For example, if you miss appointments and don’t do well with short term memory, then your devotion to a daily planner should come with that admission.
Always, of course, be 100% honest with yourself and consider your findings in those goals you seek. Remember in a job interview they are looking at how you fit, and answers only need to be focused to that end.
The need to make a job change can be an opportunity connect yourself with your real strengths.
by Brent M. Jones
Often in job interviews the question is asked, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” This can signal and enlightened HR Department, that is aware of the changes in thinking over the last decade, knowing how best to develop people by building on their strengths, rather than trying to make their weaknesses the area of focus.
Laying out your weakness can be risky. Improving under-performance comes naturally to those in leadership and coaching positions. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not focused at getting people to concentrate on what motivates them and gives them satisfaction in their work.
Leaders and coaches can measure changes in weakness, but they can not always see the drop-in energy and motivation that comes with it as the focus reinforces in the employee’s mind that their weaknesses really do define who they are. An improvement in weak area can lead to hating their work.
Before changing employment, or applying for a job, it will help if you can match your strengths to those needed for the job. Know yourself well enough to know what your good at. The first step in finding a new job is usually said to be networking, but before you begin working on networking you need to know what your good at, and that will tell you where to network, and what job to seek. Your better off finding a job you love than assuming you can make yourself fit in. Sometimes it is the potential employee who sets themselves up to have to work on weaknesses.
What is it that you like about your job now? What part of the day is the most satisfying? Your job description might tell you that measuring and timely reporting are your main objective, but you may find that during your average day your most satisfaction comes from conflict resolution. This suggests you start networking in areas where you can find a job that will have conflict resolution as your prime goal.
When your search brings you to the interview, lay out your strengths so that they match those needed for the job. Even if the new employer doesn’t totally understand the power of employees spending their time on the areas they have strengths, if you are well matched with what you have as strengths with, you will be much more effective and happy
With correct policies and procedures along with a mission statement, most problems just don’t happen. Do we believe that? To start with, how do we get a mission statement that has anything to do with the polices and procedures? Looking at the problems the Human Resource Department deal with regularly might be a good start.
The way people understand the policies and procedures clearly present conflicts to some people with their understanding of the goals and objectives of the business.
If the mission statement has no direct relationship to policies and procedures, then it can be even harder to work out conflicts where people believe they understand the goals. Management and employees might be looking at the same rules and procedures but may believe in very different objectives and results.
Consider an employee being disciplined for excess French fry waste who justifies it with an interpretation of the company’s goals, that the company wants the customer to "enjoy their food". The employee knows that fries are enjoyed hot, not cold, and disposes of the cold fries, increasing the waste, rather than serving them. If the mission statement reflects the goal to have the customer enjoy their food, then it should override the policy on waste and shift the focus to why the fries are getting cold?
Mission statements, however, often go way beyond things that relate to the function of the business where the employees put their efforts. Coca Cola’s mission statement is: “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” Hyatt’s mission statement is: “To provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day.” Nike’s mission statement is:” “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. * If you have a body, you are an athlete.” John Doe’s Burgers & Fries Restaurants hypothetical mission statement could be: “To have their customers enjoy their food and always get hot fries.”
Do any of these mission statements help the employee make daily job decisions? John Doe’s Burgers & Fries mission statement does. Who wrote these mission statements? Was it the business owners, the management, the H.R Department, the advertising department or agency, that wrote it?
Maybe the message is that when you have problems brought to your attention listen and don’t kill the messenger.
It is interesting that his longevity in the industry is seen as a negative, not as a positive by himself and some in the industry. His vast experience should be viewed (by himself and others) as “added wisdom” gained by trial and error. Burnout doesn't have to be a foregone conclusion for men and women who have lasted in a particular job or industry, but admittedly it often is.
The dictionary definition of burnout is “the end of the powered stage in a rocket’s flight when the propellant has been used up.” With people, a lot of energy perusing various goals is used up- and when people are burned out they feel somewhat used up and complacent. You can hear the burnout in someone saying, “We tried that once before and it didn’t work so it won’t work now.”
The foodservice industry, like many industries, is dynamic: customer preferences change. That should present challenges to all of us, “forcing us to rethink what we “always knew”. My advice to my friend in this industry is this, "you need to become a student of your industry. Think of new approaches or new ways to use old products and concepts. This will provide you renewed energy. As a veteran you shouldn’t worry about making a mistake. You of all people should know that a failure or setback really becomes an opportunity.
When any of us start worrying about burnout, we should stop thinking about the past and look to the future. As business analysist Peter Ducker has said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."