The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for July 2009

What message does your CEO send?

leave a comment »

The gigantic internet retailer Amazon has recently announced its acquisition of online shoe website (which is known for its fun-loving and quirky culture) for a reported sum of US$807 million in cash and stock.

While other companies send out press releases and hold media conferences to announce the news of the acquisition, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took another route and decided to make a YouTube video instead to allay the possibly mixed feelings employees have when they hear about the news. In the video, Bezos talks about how he started Amazon from his home, the excitement the company felt when they made their first sale to a non-family member and the lessons he’s learnt in the 15 years of building the company (Think long-term! Obsess about the customer!).

And on Zappo’s end, its CEO Tony Hsieh wrote a lengthy blog article answering questions such as job security (jobs are still as secure as ever), what the future of Zappos looks like (things are going to be run the same as before) and whether employees can now enjoy Amazon discounts (nope!).

But as discussed in July’s feature on employee communication, the new advent of new media and technology has seen CEOs and top management utilising a whole new means of communication tools to convey messages to employees. While CEOs and senior management typically hold townhall meetings in newly acquired companies (and that isn’t going to change), videos such as these can help speed the M&A process of gaining the trust of acquired companies.

And already, some of the video comments have been favourable, with one commentor complimenting Bezos and saying: “This is how CEO’s should be, being able to speak to everyone on a same level and imparting and reinforcing statements and knowledge in a down to earth manner.”

So for HR practitioners, don’t be surprised if you are asked to one day help wield a camera and help your CEO shoot a video. It might happen sooner than you think.

Written by Human Resources

July 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Leadership, Retention

Human Resources magazine: Under scrutiny

leave a comment »

Written by Human Resources

July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Make people better than yourself

leave a comment »

It’s a dog-eat-dog business world where employees keep trade secrets and skills to themselves. Conventional wisdom says that if you teach someone else to be better than you, there would come a day when you would be made redundant.

But for a leader to truly be great, a good leader needs to spend time and effort in raising other people to be better than they are, says Steve Farber, author of Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership.

Watch the clip below to find out how a new leadership mindset could help you as a leader and your company’s business:

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

July 20, 2009 at 10:31 am

Posted in Leadership, Training, Video

How to build a positive reputation at work

leave a comment »

In the current economic crisis, forward-thinking companies are constantly looking to prove to existing or new customers that they can add value to their business needs. One way to do that is developing a reputation for innovation and being good at what you do.

Likewise, employees who can show how they add value to the company during the downturn will be the ones earmarked for further success at work. But it takes time to build such a positive reputation.

Dr Martin Henery, who heads the Manchester Enterprise Centre UK for Manchester Business School, shares how you can enhance your reputation as a valuable employee at work. The trick is to start small.

Written by Lee Xieli

July 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Personal career, Video

Swear it again

leave a comment »

Maybe swearing should be tolerated in the office after all.

The next time you’re writing a memo to warn employees not to cuss and swear in the office, don’t. Studies have recently found that swearing and reduce the actual experience of physical pain.

“Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon” says Dr. Richard Stephens. “It taps into emotional brain centres and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain. Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists.”

Richard Stephens and his colleagues John Atkins and Andrew Kingston enlisted the help of 64 undergraduate volunteers for an “Ice Water Test”, in which each individual was asked to submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. Next, they were asked to repeat the experiment using a word they would use to describe a table. The team found that the volunteers were able to keep their hands submerged for a longer period of time when repeating the swear word.

The link is unclear, but the team believes the increase in pain tolerance occurs because swearing triggers a natural “fight-or flight” response. The accelerated heart rate when repeating a swear word may increase aggression, “downplaying feebleness in favour of a more pain-tolerant machismo”.

Swearing triggers a physical response on top of an emotional response, which may be an explanation why the centuries-old practice of cursing still persists today.


Written by KT

July 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

The human touch

leave a comment »

Beware: invading ones personal space may land you in a messy situation

Beware: invading one's personal space may land you in a messy situation

The idea of personal space has always been spoken of, but just not enough. In Asian cultures, people have the tendency to maintain their physical distances as compared to western cultures which tend to be a bit more expressive and “touchy-feely”. However, there are bound to be “touchers” at the workplace, someone constantly giving out pats on the back, hugs, shoulder rubs or high fives.

Is it okay to be giving out the human touch ever so often?  Corporate lawyers and human-resource practitioners who spoke to columnist Elizabeth Bernstein say the safest bet is always to keep our hands to ourselves in the workplace.

“There aren’t standards about what touching is nonsexual other than handshakes,” says Larry Stybel, a Boston management consultant. “If we are sitting alongside each other and I put my hand on your knee, is that a friendly sign of affection or a sexual come-on? I don’t know, and I don’t know how you will perceive it. So let’s not even go there.”

For others, they simply subscribe to the hands-off rule. “Respect my force field,” says Greg Farrall, a 39-year-old financial adviser. “If you’re looking over me at my computer screen, you don’t need to put your hand on my shoulder. You can easily put it somewhere else.”

Touch is essentially a form of human communication, says Bernstein. It’s unnatural to suppress it, and even online, we succumb to Facebook “pokes” and MSN messenger’s “nudges”. Touch is also the best way to express empathy and other kinds of support, according to psychologists. In today’s economic climate, there is perhaps an increase in hugging and patting in the workplace as colleagues console each other after layoffs and buyouts.

Yet how do “touchers” decide whom to touch? Experts say you’re always taking a risk by making physical contact with a co-worker. A person’s up-bringing and socio-environmental influences will directly relate to their comfort level, and so will different workplace environments. Still, Bernstein believes that experienced “touchers” would definitely be more intuitive as far as whom to touch.

But while some of us may cringe and dodge the friendly touches that come our way, we might actually miss the human touch when it’s gone.


Written by KT

July 9, 2009 at 11:17 am

How soft skills can help land your next job

leave a comment »

In an interview, companies typically assess candidates on three things: technical competency, ability to fit in culturally with the company and the person’s personal drive to succeed at work. Two out of these three are based on a person’s soft skills.

So how can employers assess candidates on their soft skills, and how can jobseekers demonstrate it during an interview? Tim Hird, managing director of Robert Half Singapore shares how.

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

July 7, 2009 at 10:07 am

Master your emotions at work

with one comment

Master your emotions and save the discomfort of having to wear a box over your head.

Master your emotions and save the discomfort of having to wear a box over your head.

Emotions are often a messy and sordid affair. At work, being overly sensitive affects your work productivity and harmony with your co-workers. But when under control, emotions can take your work performance and power of persuasion to greater heights. Mastering your emotions can also give you a big leg-up in a competition.

In the book Full Throttle, Gregg Steinberg spills some strategies to supercharge your performance at work through emotional mastery. Here are a few suggestions:

Discover your inner Tiger (Woods)

True happiness is a verb, says Steinberg. It involves meaningful endeavors that inspire us from the heart. Tiger Woods epitomises authentic happiness living a life of meaning that gives him inspiration to do more and to be a better person.

Steinberg recommends making a “tiger list”, where you write down a list of all the meaingful contributions your job has made to yourself. Ask yourself if your job has made a meaningful contribution to your company, and how does your job make a meaningful contribution to you. Put the list somewhere in your office, and when you’re feeling stressed or depressed, take a glance at it for a jolt of needed motivation.

Serenity now

Let serenity be your advantage at work. When finding serenity at the workplace, you first need to gain wisdom to recognise the difference between aspects of your business life which you have control and no control over. Next, place them into two categories: Can Control and Cannot Control. For the Cannot Control list, crumble up the paper and throw it away. Hence, when you start thinking unproductive thoughts, say “trash can” to yourself.

Also, focus on what you can control by devising one strategy for each worry on your Can Control list. For example, if you have a strategy to take on extra work, stay late but make sure the work is of the highest quality. Following a specified strategy will give you a greater sense of control over the situation and reduce your anxiety.

Find your joy spot

Sometimes, we get so caught up in work that we forget to have fun. With this, Steinberg suggests laughter. Laughter puts you in a better mood, and increases your work productivity as your mental capacities increase. A good chuckle can also produce a relaxation response. So when things go awry with work, you can choose to feel angry, or you can decide to laugh at the difficulties faced at work and in your life.

Leap above boredom

Steinberg believes that boredom is on the flip side of flow. Boredom is caused by the lack of challenge, where you cannot achieve flow unless you’re appropriately challenged at work. Ask yourself if you can add more seminars to your schedule, or increase your quota to be more challenged. In short, fight boredom by making it your mission to add challenges to your job.

Written by KT

July 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm