Do we want Clones?

I saw a job posting today that I think was a new form of typo or misguided thinking. The heading was for a “Clone of Media Supervisor.” I can only imagine the meeting in the recruiting or manager’s office when they were trying to come up with the requirements of the position to include. Finally, someone, sounding rather exasperated, blurted out, “Can’t we just clone the Media Supervisor we just lost?” And, boom, a new title was born.

Nowhere in the posting did the word “clone” ever appear. What did appear was a vague, generic description of the requirements of the position. Things like, “Become actively involved in projects”, “Serve as the main point of contact for vendors”, “Present¬†recommendations”, “prepare reports, day-to-day administration,” and other terms that conveyed nothing about the true expectations of the position. This same organization will wonder why they’re having trouble filling the position. They’ll likely be swamped with inappropriate resumes. Or they will fill it quickly with a completely unprepared or soon-to-be bewildered applicant.

Too many organizations still think of recruiting as “entry level HR” ¬†and fail to recognize the importance of carefully reviewing every vacancy before trying to fill it.

Do we need to replace this person? How has the position changed? What new skills are required to be successful in the role? These and many other questions must be asked each and every time we have an opportunity to add a new team member. We can’t just clone the previous incumbent because then we doom the organization to “same old, same old.” And the acronym for that is So-So and that’s something no organization can afford to be.

Are you stressed yet?

We’re coming up on Halloween so here’s a scary story for you.

In the past few months I’ve seen numerous articles about the effect of the workplace on worker’s mental health. This is a serious problem that’s spiraling out of control with no end in sight. And it’s costing organizations big bucks. According to the article in HR Magazine, “The indirect cost of untreated mental illness to employers is estimated to be as high as $100 billion a year in the U.S. alone, according to the National Business Group on Health.” In Workforce it’s estimated at over $80 billion. Yet rarely in any of the articles do they talk about the root cause of all the stress and anxiety. The focus was more on how organizations need to address this erupting dilemma.

I think the cause is the ever present strain on workers to produce more with less.

The fear of losing your job, especially for those over 50 years of age. The stress to keep up with every emerging technology, the fear of falling behind even a millimeter.

I’ve seen skilled employees thrust into manager roles with virtually little or no training on how to manage a team.

I’ve seen managers have their staff size cut in half or worse with the expectation that they will continue to produce at the same volume with no drop in quality.

I’ve seen people given manager titles without staff. And these “managers” are told to lead projects with borrowed resources whose allegiance and interests are elsewhere.

I seen recognition programs slashed. Increase budgets frozen. Senior management treating employees with an HTHJ (Happy To Have Job) mentality.

Until management realizes that its workers really are their most valuable assets, the prime differentiator among organizations, and stop treating them like interchangeable parts, the cost and frequency of days lost to mental health issues will surely continue.

So look around. How many of the things I described above have taken place at your office?

Your thought, comments or horror stories are welcome.