Saturday, March 29, 2008

We Offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee and Frankly That Guarantee Isn’t Worth a Tinker’s Dam

If you’re wondering what a tinker’s dam is, it is usually defined as something that is worthless. Some think that it was a curse as in a tinker’s damn which was considered of little significance because tinkers were always swearing; or it is a tinkers dam which is a small dam to hold solder made by tinkers when mending pans and once used, it is then of no value.

I lean towards the second tinker’s dam definition. Albeit, why would I say that the guarantee, for the Workplace Attitude Test (WAT), is worthless? The WAT test is designed to ensure that you don’t hire a person with a bad attitude in the workplace. Presumably, if you are asking for your money back you have hired a “turkey.” This puts you in a bit of a sticky wicket which is defined as a difficult situation.

(A wicket is the playing surface used in cricket. It is a direct allusion to the difficulty of playing on a wet and sticky pitch.

Overall, you’ve hired the wrong person and a few dollars back from us isn’t going to help you much. Fortunately, the Workplace Attitudes Test works well and no one has every asked for their money back.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hammocks, Margaritas and Turkeys

At this very moment, I find myself seated at my computer with a decided disinclination to write this blog. You see, I am visiting Ajijic, Mexico located thirty or so miles from Guadalajara. Ajijic is situated between the mountains and Lake Chapala meaning that it has one of the most pleasant climates in the world. Temperatures day after day hover at plus-or-minus three degrees of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

This area attracts a lot of Americans and Canadians, and Canadians never tire of telling you, “We are just like Americans except that we are unarmed and we have health insurance.” After hearing this several times one sometimes wishes to be armed.

For me this looks like the land of hammocks and margaritas and naptime. It appears that one of the most pressing questions should be “prone or supine?” Imagine my surprise when one of the local American business people expressed interest in my Workplace Attitudes Test. It appears that everywhere there are people who will take advantage of the system and create problems for employers.

In Mexico the system decidedly favors the worker. Add to this the fact that some Americans have difficulty believing that other countries are not like the U.S. and you have a cauldron of misunderstanding.

In Mexico employers, including and maybe especially North American employers, have certain obligations to their employees even if part-time. This is probably as it should be but it includes maids and gardeners and others that we might consider self-employed, contract labor, or hired as part of a larger maid service or landscaping company, etc. The wages are low but when you hire someone, in many ways you take responsibility for them. You will be expected to pay for some vacation time and possibly other obligations such as payment into a retirement account or keeping them employed while you travel for a few months. In others words, they expect a certain amount of security. Loyalty cuts both ways and the system works well if both parties act in good faith.

One of the big problems is getting rid of someone with a bad attitude or someone who does not do the job. Most Mexicans work very hard for what we would consider very little money. Albeit, there are turkeys everywhere and woe be it to the Gringo employer who does not follow correct procedures when firing someone.

As I understand it, in Mexico there is something that is called a “Denuncio” where an aggrieved party goes to the local police station or City Hall to file a complaint. This is probably a little like a scene from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is told “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” Now you get to experience the legal system in a foreign country. Most people simple settle and this can be thousands of dollars. I heard a few stories about having to pay $25,000. This may explain the interest in the Workplace Attitudes Test in a village in Mexico.

At this point, please note that the Workplace Attitudes Test has not been tested or validated for use in a non-English-speaking foreign country. It should work, but I am not sure. I do know that there are plenty of turkeys to look for in the United States. So if you want to know more about the best darn bad attitude test available, please see

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hiring the Wrong Person: Is It a Speed Bump, A Pothole or a Land Mine?

For a speed bump you have to slow down, for a pot hole you may have to get your wheels realigned, but with a landmine you’re lucky if you survive. Many people believe that hiring the wrong employee is like a speed bump but the more I read, the more I believe that bad hires are more like pot holes or land mines.

I suppose a speed bump is where you hire someone, put them on probation and get rid of them after a week or so. They may have missed work, come in late, been rude to customers, but you caught it early and the rest of the staff or you picked up the slack and not too much damage was done.

A pothole would be where the morale of fellow workers was affected, some customers were lost, and it was difficult to get rid of them. Examples of this from previous blog entries are “Jack is Back or What Happened When I Hired and Embezzler”, (that one cost $14,000) or “People Can Seem So Darn Nice,” (where it took a year to get rid of a drama queen) or “A Tale of Two Employees,” (where one employee averted a serious problem and another lost customers for a movie rental store).

The land mine is best described by Lester Rosen in Kennedy Information Recruiting Trends in his article “Recruiting Russian Roulette.” He writes, “It’s a sobering thought, but every time a recruiting professional makes a placement, there is the possibility that a new hire can put him out of business.”

I am reminded of the old Flip Wilson comedy routine that parodied an old radio show when he said, “Who knows what evil lurk in the minds of men? The devil do honey!”

Is it that bad? According to Lester Rosen it is! To quote Mr. Rosen, “Industry statistics suggest that up to 10% of applicants can have criminal records. Fraudulent misrepresentations as to education and employment occur in as much as 40% of the time according to some studies.”

Mr. Rosen points out staffing professionals are particularly vulnerable to “Negligent Hiring” law suits. He goes on to say, “A staffing professional would need to show whether credentials and education were verified, whether past employment was checked, and whether a criminal background check was done.”

I couldn’t agree more but, in fact, everyone who is involved in hiring is vulnerable. Even if the dangers were only a speed bump careful hiring is important. Now the Workplace Attitudes Test is only a part of the puzzle. It does not replace a good interview or a good background check. It does, however, focus on the identification of bad attitudes and it helps you identify some applicants that you may want to eliminate early. See

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Using The Workplace Attitudes Test With Existing Employees and The Supervisor Who Was Too Good

In most cases, people are hired for their aptitude and fired for their attitude. The primary goal of the Workplace Attitudes Test is to identify prospective employees with problem attitudes so the interviewer has the info and may decide not to hire them. In fact our welcome aboard letter reads as follows:


You are about to enter a new era of employee selection. This is truly a breakthrough. Now for the first time you can understand the values that motivate potential employees. When selecting new hires you can avoid the landmines while you pick the cherries.

Without getting too complicated, we analyze workplace attitudes to predict likely behavior.

Wouldn’t you like to avoid potential employees who may sue you or your company?
How about identifying gadflies who would rather socialize than work?
Maybe you would like to know about people who are likely to be hostile to your customers or clients?
Conversely, how would you like to find people who are grateful to have a job, who are willing to put in extra effort, and who are team players?

Now you can.

All you need to do is have job candidates take the Workplace Attitudes Test which consists of forty-five questions, and we will evaluate it for you. You then receive a bar chart that describes the individual’s relevant workplace values and an overall score that tells you how likely they are to be disruptive in the work place. Remember, everyone is on their best behavior during the job interview. With the Workplace Attitudes Test you are in a position to hire good employees by avoiding bad ones. It makes you a better interviewer and applies to a variety of environments including business, non-profits, and the public sector.

Just because Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird doesn’t mean that you have to hire one

This sums up the primary purpose of the Workplace Attitudes Test. Still, many companies have used it to evaluate and help existing employees. I used to think that this was a little like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. After all, once a person has worked for your organization you should know who has problem attitudes.

Also, the test reports on bad attitudes and as mentioned these are difficult to discuss. For example, an interviewer might not want to say “I see here that you are quite judgmental” or “I note that you tend to be a bit vindictive.” Dale Carnegie who wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” would not approve.

You can have the information but you don’t need to state it in a negative way. Each attitude relevant to the workplace is not single dimension, rather it exists on a continuum. That is, each bad attitude that is related to “disruptive behavior” has a corresponding attitude that is related to “getting along with people.” Next, I will look at the nine attitudes to show you what I mean.

Judgmental versus Accepting

Vindictive versus Forgiving

Adversarial versus Accommodating

Egocentric versus People-Oriented

Entitled versus Unassuming

Undisciplined versus Self-Disciplined

Insubordinate versus Respectful

Risk-Inclined versus Cautious

Non-Traditional versus Traditional

Each of the “bad” or disruptive attitudes has a corresponding “good” of socially-skilled attitude. Note our research has shown that the bad attitudes are disruptive only when they are extreme.

When working with existing employees and when reporting the results to a job candidate, it is the positive attitudes that are reported. It is important for the interviewer to understand that extreme and negative attitudes are warning signals, but is better to report the results in a positive way.

Although, it is the primary goal of the Workplace Attitudes Test to screen out potentially disruptive employees it is also useful for matching people to different types of workplace environments and to help some employees perform their jobs better.

In terms of matching people to work environments, command-and-control workplaces such as the military or the Catholic Church will likely find that individuals with respect for tradition and a respect for authority tend to fit in better. Conversely, entrepreneurial or team-building organizations may not need as much respect for authority and tradition and would prosper with people who are more self-disciplined and people oriented.

In one instance, the Workplace Attitude Test helped a young supervisor work with older sales representatives. Joyce was in her late twenties and supervised six sales reps who were twice her age. She did a great job. All of her reports were done on time, her meetings were short and efficient all of her staff liked her, business was great and she was miserable.

She wasn’t sure why she was miserable and discussions with her boss didn’t help. The big boss wanted to keep her and gave her raises and more time off, but still she was miserable. At that time, the Workplace Attitudes Test was under development and the entire staff agreed to take the test. No one had warning signals but the test solved the mystery.

Joyce proved to be accepting, forgiving, accommodating, people-oriented, unassuming, self-discipline somewhat cautious and very traditional.

Joyce’s sales reps were, well, sales reps. They too had good people skills, but they had little respect for authority, were a bit undisciplined, and quite entitled.

In short, Joyce wanted to please people, and her sales reps tended to take advantage of her. She met everyone’s needs but her own.

I am reminded of a great quote from the movie, “Three Days of the Condor” when a young CIA agent asks a grizzled old veteran played by John Housman, “What do you miss about the old days (referring World War II)?” Houseman replied, “The clarity.”

Joyce finally had clarity and the story has a happy ending. Joyce got a private office and a gatekeeper secretary. The sales reps could no longer barge in and talk to her at anytime. They had to make an appointment, unless it was critical, and they received an incentive to get their reports on time.

Joyce regained her sanity and the organization kept a good supervisor. To learn more, see