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The Benefit of Flexibility by Christina Stewart

Praxis began because Drew and I wanted to be The Boss. We wanted to work for ourselves and have infinitely more flexibility.  I personally was frustrated with asking if I could have an afternoon or an hour away from the office to attend to something for my kids.  I have excellent time management ability and can focus easily, I know how to manage my time with my tasks and saw slipping away from work to watch an assembly or take a child to the dentist as easy and as just part of my day.  Funny, my boss didn’t see it that way. However, I never did ask if I could come in on a Saturday to get ahead of the workload – I just would and of course no one ever challenged me on it. It isn’t that they wouldn’t let me go – if I asked, then I could go – but it was just the fact that I had to ask and that it was tallied up and tracked, used as vacation, or I traded this time at work here for this time at home there and recorded on some spreadsheet and in some database.

As the one in charge of the service we offer now (aka The Boss) I weave what needs attending to at home and at work into my day and my schedule.  It’s the sunny Monday morning of a Long Weekend while I write this – but I was up at 5:30 so I might as well write this blog while the house is quiet and I have the time – right? And come Wednesday afternoon at 12:50 you’ll find me at the school walking my youngest child’s Kindergarten class to the pool for swimming lessons – because it’s important and fun – right? Still trading time but I’m most certainly not tracking it and I’m not asking if I can; I’m simply managing the pieces of my life and my work that matter.

I have a friend in Vancouver who runs his own business with about 20 employees and he doesn’t track lunch hours or what time they roll in each day – and I’ll tell you something crazy - he doesn’t even track vacation.  Not one little bit.  He sets out the expectations and provides plenty of support; guidance and the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. And then: he lets them get to it. If they need a Wednesday afternoon off to walk their kid to a swimming lesson, off they go, without question, without asking.  If they need two weeks in Hawaii, off they go without question, without asking. He hires skilled people with the ability to get the job done without his meddling and then makes sure they know what they are on deck to do.  Then they do it as they see fit, in the times that work best for them. He doesn’t track anything but their final performance and if they are getting the results he needs them to, they are successful.  End of the story.

As Drew and I stare down the barrel of making our first few hires, we’re most definitely thinking about flexibility for our team.  We refuse to make our employees choose between work and family – we aren’t retail, someone does not have to be minding the store in order to get the job done.  Also, as an HR company we fully understand that companies that are willing to offer more flexible job options find that their employees are happier and more committed to their jobs, or even that they get more work done.  So that’s a nice bonus, but in the end we’re offering flexibility because I will trust them and I have better things to do than track and trade my team’s work time with down time – and so will they.

 

Blind Hiring by Christina Stewart

The idea of Blind Hiring is that a Hiring Manager looks only at a candidate’s qualifications and abilities – absolutely no personal characteristics are considered. When we consider personal characteristics in hiring it leads to subjectivity and subjectivity means bias – and usually unconscious bias.  Which means that we base whether or not to read a resume/interview/hire someone on our instant gut response to a bit of information about them as a person. Information that we are unaware of and largely has nothing to do with their ability to do the job.   What?!?

Let’s use an example. In a recent study a researcher sent over 300 fake resumes to law firms to see if privilege really got people hired.  Privilege meaning: from a well-connected family, often wealthy, often elite, and of course, white. One of the most interesting tidbits from the research is that when the researcher wrote “Sailing and Polo” in the hobbies and interests section of the resume, it lead to a quadrupled call back rate for the privileged men over women.  So, yes, we can see that privilege leads to jobs – but only for men, women, not so much. (Read more here: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/privilege-helps-men-not-women-get-lucrative-jobs/504497/

If you have a brain you have bias.  We all do it – we make micro decisions about people when we scan a resume – we see the date they graduated (age), we see their name (gender and race), we see the school they attended (good neighbourhood or bad?), we see the clubs they belong to and where they volunteer (sexuality, intelligence, family status, athletics.)  We think we see someone before we actually do.  We have a need for blind hiring – which eliminates all the ways we might be able to identify and judge someone and focuses simply on their ability (12 years of as an Account Manager and $12M in sales year over year, as opposed to Peter Lee from East Vancouver.) 

The process of submitting a resume is an antiquated one, fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. We need a new system and we need it now – Hiring Managers spend about six seconds looking at a resume (http://www.businessinsider.com/hiring-recruiters-read-resumes-2014-5) and in that six seconds they are gathering superfluous information. It isn’t enough that we try to be aware of our biases, they will show up anyway.  I for one would rather hire an Account Manager with a proven track record than a race, gender and status.

 

INTP - A Tale of Two Detached Perspectives By Christina Stewart

 

Common Sense.jpg

How they gain energy: Introverted

How they take in information: Intuited

How they make decisions: Thinker

How they deal with the outer world: Perceiver

The INTP is the greatest source of Common Sense there is in Myers Briggs terms.  These Perceivers (P) think in rational terms and expect the world around them to connect logically.  They devour facts and information and are incredibly precise.  If experiences or events around them don’t make sense in a practical way – they dismiss it quite quickly as hogwash which can lead to an impression that the INTP is detached and aloof.  

Even though they are grounded in facts, the flip side of an INTP is the world of theoretical possibilities in which they spend a great deal of their time.  INTPs' thought process is on a constant loop, and their minds are alive with ideas from dawn to…well, dawn. This constant thinking can also have the effect of making them look pensive and detached.

So, how can one person be so grounded in common sense and yet so full of dreaming about what could be? Well, I suppose that’s why these Inuit’s (N) are lauded as “Rational Philosophers.” They dip their toes into both the pool of theoretical possibilities and the pool of common sense.  And as for seeming to be detached – at times they are.  With Thinking (T) as one of their main drivers, INTPs are hard pressed to comprehend emotional stresses at all, and their pals won't find much support in them. Folks with the INTP personality type will head straight to logical, tangible, realistic suggestions to problems – whether the buddy has asked for that kind of guidance or not.

The INTP is also one of the least common personality types in the Myers Briggs type table.  With less than 3% of the population self-assessing this way, these Introverts (I) are truly uncommon.  They are also mostly male, as female INTPs make up only about 3% of all INTPs.  They are also the most likely to be self-employed and are the least likely to be a stay at home parent.  With true independence INTPs have no desire to either lead or to follow.  So don’t even try – you’ll get lost if you follow and they’ll get lost if you try to lead.  I say this from the experience of having married an INTP almost a decade ago.  Which is why I can unequivocally say when you add up all of the quirks that make an INTP and INTP, they make for outstanding partners. 





The Best Teams Thrive on Conflict by Drew Stewart

When you think of a highly functioning organization or team, the perception is quite often the same.

”They all get along so well because they are very similar and know what each other needs.”

“They always seem to be in agreement and it is a very harmonious place to work.”

“They think and act as one and have so much in common.”

Sounds like a nice place to work doesn’t it? The question is, does this kind of environment deliver the best possible results?   Chances are, probably not. What most high performing teams need is a little bit of conflict. It is probably highly unnatural for most people to actually invite conflict into their lives. However, the benefits can be extremely positive.  Increased engagement, improved productivity and fresh ideas are just a few of the benefits that can come out of conflict. Now in concept, this is a fantastic idea. However, conflict needs to be managed and handled in the proper way. Not every organization is equipped to deal with it. Your workplace needs to be an environment that builds trust and respect and allows a variety of differing opinions to truly work and effectively manage conflict.

The topic of conflict in the workplace is broad and it doesn’t have nice cookie cutter solutions. Approaches to addressing a process like conflict resolution needs to be considered carefully and will depend on one’s current workplace culture.

Thankfully due to the robust nature of this topic, it allows us the opportunity to discuss it even further at the upcoming PowHERtalks event in Vancouver on Jan. 30th, where Christina is one of the 18 invited speakers.  For more information on this event please click on the following link:

http://www.powherhouse.com/powhertalks/

We would love to see you there.