- Harry Truman
A long, long time ago, I worked for an EAP doing public outreach, presentations, and programming. It is really the job that helped my launch my HR career but I had forgotten about it until recently, when culling through some old papers. What a trip down memory lane.
I worked in an office of several psychologists and social workers. The person I worked for took credit for all my work – and I do mean everything. He took credit for my programs, my ability to connect with our clients – both individual and business, and he took credit for my presentations like he did the work himself. He took credit for virtually every success I had.
Problem was he didn’t do anything for me. Zero. It was appalling really. He bragged to his colleagues about how I had blossomed under his tutelage and coaching, presented my ideas for programming and outreach as his own, and would call the clients after I did presentations to solicit feedback. Anything unflattering would be shared in his meetings, demonstrating how much time he needed to work with me.
I didn’t know any of this going on until a colleague befriended me. What I learned was he hated the counseling part of his job – you know, meeting with paying clients – and used any excuse, me included, to get out of his work.
I realized that I didn’t have much leverage; I was young, not sitting around the decision-making table, and frankly, who really cared that I worked for a jerk?
Despite my youth and virtual ignorance, I made a decision. As much as it confused, disappointed, and demeaned me, I kept going. We were doing so much good for so many people that I decided the good outweighed the bad. By a lot.
Eventually I left the job and took the lesson with me. I never, ever take credit for other people’s work. I go to extremes to make sure people know who is doing the great work coming out of our office. Or any other place I am – online, at home, on my job.
Sometimes, people presented in life do nothing but demonstrate how not lead. Or manage. Or be colleagues. Or just be friends. I learned it early. For that, I am grateful.
Photo by Deirdre Honner
I am not a recruiter or, as am I more apt to refer to the folks in the profession, a headhunter. I’ve always considered hunting for heads a tough job.
In past lives, I have used recruiters - both contingent and retained, and I haven’t always been the best client. I’d get distracted from the search by what I thought were more pressing issues (like anything is more important than finding the right people). I’m certain I’ve frustrated more than a few recruiters. Most reruiters were good people, worked their butts off and did quality work. But like any profession, one bad experience can taint the whole profession.
A couple of months ago, my wife’s administrative assistant received a call from a woman who identified herself to be calling from the office of the CEO of a local Fortune 100 company. The CEO was a member of my wife’s company’s Board of Directors and the Compensation Committee she works with on a regular basis. The woman on the phone stated that this Board member had some questions about their programs and was therefore requesting a list of the names, phone numbers and email addresses of all the people in my wife’s Compensation and Benefits Department.
Thinking this was a strange request; the administrative assistant relayed the request to my wife who was immediately suspicious. Interestingly, a similar call had been placed to my wife’s boss’ administrative assistant.
My wife made a call to the supposedly inquiring CEO’s office and was told that no such request had been made. At that point, the administrative assistant dialed up the original caller and attempted to clarify who she was. She again stated she was calling on behalf of the Board member and he was right there if she needed to talk to him before sending the requested information.
What a scam! Who was this woman? It turned out she was a recruiter and this was her method for identifying potential recruits.
When my wife told me this story, I had a curious reaction. I was fascinated by the brazen approach. On one hand, pretty ballsy. On the other hand, ethically distasteful. I was surprised as well that the perpetrator was female. More than a few morally bankrupt males have used the fake identity ploy as a “recruiting” strategy in search of a date. I actually expect more from the fairer sex. Should I?. I’m guessing the “readily available” fake CEO put her up to it.
We live in difficult economic times. And, as I said, I’m not a recruiting professional. Is this an instance of “desperate times require desperate measures?” With all the “new fangled” social tools available to employers to identify candidates, do recruiters have to kick it up a notch to distinguish themselves?
I’ve been in this work world for over a quarter century. I get the hiring philosophy that the best candidates are employed and often reside within competitors or companies in parallel industries. Getting to them can be difficult. Having an experienced “hunter” to accelerate the process can be invaluable. I dig creativity and unique approaches but this isn’t that. It taints the profession.
Is this incident just an aberration? Has anyone had similar experiences?
Photo credit iStockPhoto