Archive for September, 2016

We asked “The Ethics Guy” about his favorite interview question

ethics2Bruce Weinstein presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee in his latest book, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees.

Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

We asked author Weinstein about his favorite interview question. 

CausePlanet: What is your favorite job interview question that reveals character and why?

BW: “Have you ever cheated, and if so, what did you learn from it?”

Several of the leaders I spoke with in doing research for The Good Ones told me, “You’d be surprised how often people will just come out and tell you about the dishonest things they’ve done.” I agree.

From time to time I interview high school students who are applying to the college I attended, Swarthmore. A few years ago, I mentioned to Rob, the young man I was interviewing, that I’d written a book called Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught? I told him how dismayed I was by the stories of cheating in high schools and colleges and asked him point-blank if he had ever misrepresented himself.

“Yes,” he said. “My friends and I have done it more than once. School is so competitive now, you have to cheat to get good grades.”

Rob got a “Do not admit” recommendation from me on the college evaluation form.dishonesty

There are two downsides to asking a job candidate a direct question about dishonesty. First, it immediately strikes fear in the candidate’s heart, even if the candidate is an honest person. I don’t like the idea of making people squirm.

The second downside is that the question seems to present a no-win situation. The candidate may reason that if she admits to having cheated, she won’t get the job, but if she lies, she’ll get caught in a fib.

But the savvy interviewer will not reject candidates simply because they have admitted to cheating. What bothered me about Rob wasn’t so much his academic dishonesty but the fact that he exhibited no remorse for having cheated and even attempted to justify it.

The honest person has a strong emotional commitment to the truth, and leaders who evaluate for character as well as competence serve their employers—and themselves–well.

I’m happy to help readers of CausePlanet any way I can.  If you have any questions about this material, please call me any time at 646.649.4501 (U.S.).

See also:

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

Image credit: carnegiecouncil.org, skiprichard.com

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Are you hiring for the most important quality?

209-by-248-the-good-ones-coverQuestionable character is costly. Employees who lack character cost businesses and nonprofits billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, employers focus too much on what candidates need to know or do and rarely think about what makes an employee great: character.

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee. Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

The phrase, “the good ones,” relates to two contexts. First, author Bruce Weinstein uses it to refer to employees of high character. Second, he applies it to the ten qualities associated with high-character employees:

1) honesty

2) accountability

3) caretop-10-list

4) courage

5) fairness

6) gratitude

7) humility

8) loyalty

9) patience and

10) presence.

Honesty is listed first because Weinstein asserts it’s the most important one by far. If someone is fundamentally dishonest, it’s hard to imagine any other quality outweighing that flaw.

When Weinstein’s publisher asked if he had favorite stories among those he collected from interviews and sources, he said these stood out in his mind:

Brenda Harry, an employee at the Goodwill store in Pearisburg, Virginia, who found $3,100 in cash in a coat she was processing. She turned in the money, even though no one would have ever known if she had decided to keep it for herself.

Janice Piacente, a senior compliance officer who routinely gives her team the credit for implementing groundbreaking ideas that she generates.

The 20,000 employees at Market Basket, a New England grocery store chain, who left their jobs after the company’s CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, was fired. Demoulas had fought tirelessly for his workers, and they repaid his loyalty with such a widespread protest that it drew national media attention and resulted in his reinstatement.

Weinstein appreciates the men and women of high character in these stories who have chosen to take the high road when it would have been much easier to do otherwise. This book is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the ten qualities evident in these favorite case stories and a guide for how to attract these kind of high-character employees.

See also:

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

Image credit: New World Library

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Making changes at the board level: Are you ready for reactions?

Where do most nonprofit boards struggle with engaging in the process of actual change?

Beth Gazley and Katha Kissman would say that often it is simply starting the conversation and committing to achieving intentional change.

Gazley and Kissman, coauthors of Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change, acknowledge that change agents also struggle with varying responses to change. The authors provide us with the “5 Cs Framework” that lists each of the responses to change you might experience. If you can anticipate different responses, you can better prepare for them when they happen.

We’ve taken the liberty of putting them into a visual for you:

 

board-change-is-tough-2

 

If your nonprofit board needs to make some changes, Transformational Governance takes a close look at how change happened as opposed to reviewing the end results. Additionally, rather than focusing on the behaviors and qualities of the individuals who serve, light is shed on the processes board members and staff use to transform their boards.

Armed with funded research, this book fills a void in governance literature by emphasizing diagnosis and problem solving. It also offers illustrative examples and interesting case stories from a wide range of nonprofits.

See book summaries related to nonprofit board governance:

Transformational Governance

Firing Lousy Board Members…And Helping the Others Succeed

Super Boards: How Inspired Governance Transforms Your Organization

The Invisible Yellow Line: Clarifying Nonprofit Board and Staff Roles

Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High-Performing Nonprofit Boards

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