Analytic Vision

Posts Tagged ‘HR’

10 Useful Skills That Will Make You A Better Entrepreneur

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 31/07/2017

 

Working as a consultant for entrepreneurs is exciting and stressful in the same time. I know, because I’ve done it for years. So I decided to share some of my observations that might come as very useful for entrepreneurs and not only.

Not having these skills will not ruin you, but it would certainly slow you down. This is not an exhaustive list, just a “top of my mind” approach that I think would be very precious especially for those in the beginning of the road that make the leap from freelancing to entrepreneurship.

  1. Creating rules based on your principles. Any company is similar to the entrepreneur which creates it. In the beginning, especially if you don’t have a lot of employees, it will be easy to express how other people should behave, act or think concerning your business in order to respect what you want to create. Principles are like a lighthouse in the dark and in the night. In the beginning, they might be clear and easy. But the best way to share them is to express them as laying foundations for the rules: not too many, not too few, but clear for everybody. Once set, everyone must respect them. You must respect them the best. In the same time, it is important to train this skill, because your principles evolve and so do you.

  2. Express gratitude. Train yourself to use any anniversary, any opportunity in order to thank people which have made a contribution. Thank your clients after buying from you. Thank your collaborators for doing a good work. Thank your employees for reaching the goals. Thank your partners for supporting you. If you believe in God, keep this in mind: do not wish for God to give you how much you can take! You can take and have as much as you want as a burden in this life. Whatever you want, God can give you. But, in order to keep it, you must remember to be satisfied with less and with more, to take any success as a gift from God and not as a merit. The gratitude is a key skill for an entrepreneur.

  3. Recognize the teachable people. There are no real incompetents, only people who don’t manifest or have lost the capacity to learn. Therefore, choose wisely to work with only those people who can be taught. Do not hope that giving chances to seemingly talented people will make them fly and become stars. Most oftenly, the people you like the most are not those which necesarrily perform the best. Welcome the people who you choose to improve their careeer working with you!

  4. Train yourself to make distinctions between options, possibilities, opportunities and probabilities. All might sound similar, but they are very different. Anything is possible until you have to chose options. Those options must be at least probable. Between the options which are probable, you have to prioritize your opportunities and decide wether you want to choose them or create them. But remember, whatever you do, your options must not only be possible, but probable also! Many young professionals start their entrepreneurship career doing business plans like they did during faculty, but fail miserably. Know your territory and act upon that knowledge!

  5. Constantly develop yourself. What happens when the one thing that you are able to do for your clients is the thing that stops you the most from developing yourself? The competition will likely take over in a matter of time. You need to constantly be a source for re-invention. Working for your own development should not be in a competition with working for your customers or with your employees. Time for yourself to develop is also needed in order to enhance your business.

  6. How much do you allow yourself and others to act authentic in a relationship? Find and recognize the other people’s values, beliefs and convictions. Beliefs are convictions we believe to be true. Attitudes are collections of beliefs and values around a certain topic. There isn’t such a things as a “non-value” or “anti-value”, there are only different beliefs, values and attitudes. Erach person is motivated by different scopes and if you learn to discover those asking specific questions (such as some from LAB profile), it is worth to use them and to link them with each of the important actions that need to be taken for your business plans to work. Values lead to motivation. Motivation leads to vision. Vision leads to strategy. Why? Because where there’s a will, there’s a way. If the strategy does not take into consideration the values of the employees, it will be a difficult to implement strategy.

  7. Use the faults of the employees in the favor of the teams. Knowing that a certain person has a low performance in a certain area means that you know not to delegate to that person something (s)he might do which is wrong. Creating teams taking into consideration both their strong points and their weak points is a service that you can do creating the kind of complementarity that the collaborators could and should appreciate.

  8. Constantly shape in your mind the model of the best entrepreneur that you can be. How does that feel? What does this model do? How do you see him or her? Remember, it’s a model, it’s not Superman, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Practice in your mind what you would do in different types of situations: with your employees, with the clients, with the partners. Put yourself in the shoes of people who need to make difficult decisions. What’s worth doing to become such an entrepreneur? What is it important to giv up in order to become this model?

  9. How do you manage to diplomatically tell the truth and be convincing without lying? Practice rethorics and argumentation. What’s worth doing in oder to prove that you are right? Sometimes, it’s not enough top be right. It also depends how you say it. Having different reframing strategies in order to make each person think in his/her way is required, because not everybody will be convinced by the same arguments. In business, it doesn’t matter so much who is right, it matters what makes things profitable. Also, please keep in mynd, what others perceive as a message matters, not what we intend to transmit.

  10. Serve your clients, for their own good, don’t please them. Politicians, coaches and psychologists may oftenly be “punished” for actually serving those who chose them. Pleasing the clients is something which others can do very easily, but it takes some courage to educate your clients to recognize their own deep needs and to be glad they are actually served by what you are offering.

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How to Live a Perfect Life, part II. The First 4 Out of 12 Steps, In the Right Order

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 13/11/2016


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I started writing last week a new series of articles, out of which I am now publishing part 2 of 4. You may read part I here.

 

  1. Know yourself.

I know this kind of advice, “know thyself”, is very vague as for some people it might mean meditation, traveling around the Earth or reading the horoscope. What I refer to is none of these, but actually abandoning the idea that you are a victim and get strategic, actionable intelligence about how your mind works and, even better, how other people’s minds work. This can be done through work which can be expensive, in time and money, and you won’t like all that you find. It involves completing extensive personality questionnaires, getting payed interpretations from experts about what are your weak and strong points, your downfalls and your talents and reading specialty books about how these work and how to use the information to find your path.

In my life experience and in working with clients, one’s dealing with own self after 360 degrees evaluations and/or psychometric evaluations is usually emotionally consuming, but priceless, because it helps you make major decisions such as in what country/city to work, what to study and what career to choose. Not knowing yourself or delaying this moment means thousands of hours possibly lost doing something you don’t like, or you’re not good at, or not worth your resources.

There are some people who say “nobody can tell you who you are” and “life experience is best” because “we all have our own lives”. In my opinion, such perspectives may be related to the fact that these people most often don’t like to know the truth, weren’t taught to learn or have had a lot of criticism around the paths to be chosen and want to make their own point in order to grow. This is also a path, one which can build character (the best case), waste a lot of time and opportunities for development and disrespect the objectivity, professionalism and life experience of HR profilers. Usually, the parents should be preoccupied during the education of the kids of which would be their strengths and talents, but if they aren’t, the children must be able to trust some sort of authority for career guidance in life.

 

 

  1. Learn to learn.

There are differences between growing up, education and animals’ training, but somehow all these get messed up and mixed up in the process known as “school”. It happens right around the period of time when real learning should happen, preferably through modeling and best through modeling for practical learning and efficient theoretical learning by speed reading, memory techniques and concentration. Also, lately, in the past decade and even more in the following, most of the learning, modeling and concentration abilities of kids will vanish before highschool.

Of course, you can learn these also later in life, but until then, there is the guarantee that you will get frustrated or traumatized through what is called “formal education”, lose considerable amount of resources (especially time and money) in bad decisions, inefficient work and limited liberties. I have always considered learning how to learn as the fundamental basis of personal development.

During this period of life, children (or adolescents) should have a balance between their psychological needs for learning, exploration, development and modeling, and their other emotional needs. For example, they must have freedom to express themselves and play even while making some mistakes without being overly criticized. Learning to learn after highschool usually opens up the door to emotional, sensitive traumas connected to inefficient education within family and/or school system. From my experience, the people who weren’t taught to love to learn and/or who were very traumatized by caretakers, teachers, professors or colleagues don’t even want to read and out it goes for the rest of their lives the concept of “personal development”.



 

  1. Learn to change, starting with what stops you.

This is another seemingly counter-intuitive step, as opposed to concentrating first on your qualities and dismissing your weak points. But now, there have been developed and discovered countless techniques and approaches in psychotherapy and personal development areas (such as schema therapy, transactional analysis, coaching and NLP) that you can find resources to deal with your problems, no matter how serious they may be. Chances are that if you’re young, your life is not perfect and you’ve had traumas, limiting beliefs, no matter how great the education received in the family was. The longer you waste time avoiding them, not solving them or fighting with what you don’t like, the harder it will be for you when you fall from the success you try to build for yourself on a house of sand.

If you develop, let’s say (a mere example), your professional abilities but neglect family issues, your performance will at a certain point become limited because of the lessons not learned at the right moment and you will have to go back to a certain level of development in order to truly accept yourself, unconditionally, with all the terrible issues you’ve been through. The more you prolong this waiting, the more chances are you might lose at least some of what you build on faulty bases. After you know yourself, you have to accept yourself, and then decide what to change, and in what order. This is capital. There is no way around that. Based on how the serious your problems are, you might need the help of a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist, or a psychological counselor. In other, more mild cases, a coach or a personal development consultant can suffice. You can consult with a Mental Health Facilitator to decide. Dismissing this under the rug increases the chances of developing a mental disease later in life.

The parents which want to facilitate their children’s access to change must give them examples of balancing different aspects, contexts and needs in life, such as that between work and play, between their own needs and others’ needs, between internal and external beauty, between exploring and expressing their inner world and listening and knowing the outer world. This is very difficult and can’t always be obtained because no parent is perfect, but whatever you want to inspire in the direction of personal positive change, must be lived as an appropriate example.



 

  1. Cultivate your potential through learning and practice.

Most people develop through facing problems, getting kicked in the behind. But the ones who outlive the previous step know the value of orienting oneself towards goals. While or after changing key aspects of your issues, it is worth to get specific training appropriate for your natural talents, inclinations and gifts. Getting the psychometric evaluations before college helps you choose a right career and prepare for a University which will help you excel. The next step is to study on your own the theories which will help you be a good practitioner and exercise in order to train your skills and get experience. Knowing yourself also enables you to choose an appropriate job, at the right place in an organization or to choose a niche for your business as a freelancer or entrepreneur. It is worth investing somewhere between at least 10.000-100.000 $/ for your formal + informal education in the right field for your talents (I am only referring to University+master period).

Not knowing yourself before studying means risking the same amount or (most likely) more and years of your youth doing something you won’t practice so well later, leading to disappointment, mediocrity and sometimes big failure. Also, not solving your main inner challenges before or in the time that you’re dedicating cultivating your potential means you will be as strong as your weakest link (which will definitely break sooner or later). Also, as an alternative or a complementary to training, you can now learn by reading, watching video seminars, participating in webinars and especially getting customized consulting, coaching or mentoring from specialists in the niches you want to model in.

The people who only rely on faculty and job training will be soon replaced by robots and immigrant labor force in this century. They might also be aware of this too late when it may be to expensive to really change something. I am confronted with this when I talk to people in their 30s or 40s who realize they have chosen a wrong career and they try hard to perform in a job they hate and they want all the results really fast, like I would be supposed to do in a few sessions what they haven’t done in self-knowledge, learning and practice all of their lives. Progresses can be made at any age, but harder and with bigger costs (especially time and money) and sacrifices (especially for those who have families).



 

PS: Thanks to Corina Andreea Popa for the practical suggestions and feed-back on this article before publishing.

Ștefan Alexandrescu

professional development consultant, trainer and coach

0040 729 034 883

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My Educational Credits

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 11/11/2012

Each educational university activity in European Union  comprises of a certain fixed number of European Credits Transferable. This is used in order to equivalate thruought all the countries different specializations. Often times, it is important how many credits you’ve got in a certain field, in order for you to apply at another university in order to continue your studies.

Given the fact that I’ve been quite obsessed of gathering knowledge, I have a series of credits, which I sum up here for anyone to know:

240 credits from 5 years of study, BA (licence/diploma/degree in communication and public relations, main State University of Iaşi, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”)

76 credits from different disciplines which I have studied optionally at the main State University of Iaşi: “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”

23 credits in psychology from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences from the main State University of Iaşi: “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, for the disciplines:

  • The Psychology of Advertising (6 credits)
  • Organizational Psychology (5 credits)
  • Work Psychology (5 credits)
  • The Psychology of the Economical Activity (7 credits)

Other Psychological credits, which only matter in Psychology:

  • The National Conference of Organizational Psychology, Timişoara, 2005 (5 credits)
  • The International Conference of Organizational Psychology, Bucureşti, 2005 (5 credits)

8-10 credits at the Faculty for Economy and Business Administration,  the main State University of Iaşi: “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” (disciplines studied with professor Prutianu: marketing research, negotiation and sales.

90 credits from the master of managerial communication and human resources, SNSPA Bucharest (National School of Political and Administrative Studies)

120 credits from the career consulting master program from The Polytechnic University of Bucharest

32 credits in Psychopedagogy, University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, which allow me to teach to undergraduates: logic, argumentation, rhetoric, psychology, economy and philosophy.

This adds up to an amount of at least 593 European Transferable Credits.

Now consider this: the normal amount of credits for one university year is 60 (standard, across European Union). The amount I reached is almost for 10 university years, considering I have been a student only for 7 actual years. I consider this a quite efficient result.

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To Manipulate Or Not to Manipulate, That Is the Question

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 06/04/2012

I’m telling you this with hope in my heart and trust that by offering patience to the initiative I’m going to tell you about will create an important and a long-waited change. Before telling you what I’m going to tell you about, thank you for listening me, as I am sure you will consider my message important. As you think of it, with each word, my message becomes clearer to you and you can easily understand what I am saying. Let us find new ways of expressing ourselves… For, example, I…

 

Overcoming public speaking fright

It is said that the second greatest possible fright, except for the one of dying, is the fright of public speaking. Fortunately for me, I have not met many people which were afraid to speak in public. Maybe during grade school. Public speaking is familiar environment for me.

The best exercise I recommend, out of my own experience, is getting in front of all while saying to yourself: “In 30 seconds, my mouth will start speaking. It would better say something useful.”. So I did. So will you. Another exercise: if someone would have a gun to your head and would tell you: “speak well in public now or I kill you”, how do you think you’d perform? You’d certainly do a better job if you knew your life depends on the quality of your delivery. For some, that IS the case. May they be presenters, trainers, lobbyists, attorneys, diplomats, press releasers, politicians, the quality of their public speaking will determine how much money they will make. But this is not a study of what best public speakers do.

My intention is to familiarize you with the truth that everybody speaks in public. Better, worse. But if you think at it, all of us had to make a public presentation, or to address a public in a one-to-many communication instance. But what are the things to consider before doing public speaking in the HR world in an ethical fashion?

Public speaking is definitely a part of HR persons. Conferences. Board meetings. Employee meetings. Focus-groups. Evaluations. Fairs. Exhibitions. Workshops. Trainings. All these cannot be avoided.

 

How much of well planning makes for an ethical delivery?

First thing to consider is: “be themselves”. If you address a public, you must know that public. Who’s in it, what degree of information do they have on the topic you’re speaking, what is their interest in the topic, what kind of questions they will put, etc. It’s a sign of respect towards your message, to each of the participants in the public and to the organizers. And also consider these days anyone can video / audio record you with a simple phone or mp 3 player, not to mention the photos. Then, they can be placed on the internet, tagged with your name and accessed by anyone, for the rest of eternity. If you don’t have respect for all of these, you will be remembered. It’s not only the skills that you put to practice, but also your values.

Of course the better job you do on planning your speech, of taking care of the surroundings (light, height, noise, distance, temperature, technology settings, etc.), the better you will show respect for your public. These might seem as the organizers’ responsibility. But if you really care about your personal brand, your message and the public, make it your responsibility to triple-check.

Let’s assume you address a public well educated, well informed and interested in the subject matter you present. The audience has been pre-selected and you’ve put certain questions at the beginning to make sure you’re on the same page. Now you’ve got their attention. You have the formal authority in the room. From this moment, if you skillfully use your persuasiveness, you can imprint any ideas into their minds. You may masterfully conceive your speech so that they would understand and maybe agree to it, at least until a certain point. You may even manipulate them.

Beyond that, it lies the question: what is the line between influencing, persuasion and manipulation? When does it serve well and when does it not?

First of all, none of these have negative meaning by themselves. A mother may manipulate her children by saying: “Do you prefer to drink the [bad tasting] medicine from the white cup or from the blue cup?”, using a double bind to determinate an action. Some would not consider this as manipulation, because, some say, manipulation is always negative. In stead of ranting on the concepts: responsibility; accountability; life lessons; we’ll do some practice.

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Let’s come back to the fine distinction between influencing, persuading and manipulating someone. Although there are uncountable ways of doing any of these, let’s just say we want to send the message that using seat belts during driving for all the passengers saves lives. Noble idea, don’t you think? We’ll see.

 

Influence

When you’ll start to think about this, you will naturally find what I’m saying to you as more and more interesting. “Looking at the accidents statistics in USA, in 2004, more persons which did not use a seat belt died in accidents than those who who were wearing / although, according to the federal statistics, more than 80% of the drivers use belts. […] Apparently not wearing the seat belt during driving the car is about the same thing as having a dagger installed on the driving wheel.”. Before thinking further on the way this affects our lives, let us consider all the small differences seeming minor details like putting the seat belt on before driving to actually truly understand the real effect of those seemingly minor details. The difference between using and not using your seat belt might be the difference between life and death.

Persuasion

Close your eyes. [the light gets dimmer] Imagine yourself riding in a top notch car on a freeway. [appropriate music] You feel the wind and all the things around you. You get to an intersection. You slow down, but not in due time and a truck gets into your face from nowhere. You have no time to react. [the lights close] It all went dark. [silence for a few moments]. You just died because you didn’t wear a seat belt [lights open up brightly] Welcome back!

Manipulation.

The light gets dimmer. You present a video of a guy named David, with his wife, Molly and their son, Tommy. The are joyful, playing in the garden. Then you show some pictures with them getting in the family car. Then you put on the morgue pictures of David, Molly and Tommy. They didn’t use the seat belt. You rapidly shoot some statistics to the people, in big colorful graphic display. In the end, you take a moment in silence, honoring David, Molly, Tommy and the other thousands of people who lost their lives during X period in the Y zone and say a prayer. 

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Rich Item Conceptualization.

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 26/03/2012

Here I gave you some examples of items. I have proven how they don’t work here. This article is part IV from the series of articles in English about survey-type research with focus on quantitative measures. Please also consider this list of articles in Romanian about research.

In order to attain the same goal in the second context, let’s say we would have these items in stead of the first:

    1. Do you experience any kind of distress at work, due to other people? [measures weather there is a problem or not]

  1. Yes

  2. No

If the answer is “no”, skip right to question nr. 6.

    1. How often do you experience this distress? [measures frequency]

a) 2-3 times a day

b) daily

c) 2-3 times a week

d) weekly

e) 2-3 times a month

f) once a month or even more rare

3. How does the intensity of this distress affects you and your work? [measures intensity]

a) I feel suffocated by it

b) My work is suffocated by it

c) My work is affected by it

d) My work is just slightly delayed by it

e) I can handle it most of the times

f) It doesn’t have a great, if any effect on my work or on myself.

4. Who, from your office, do you think contributes to / influences the distress? (You can pick one or more choices) [measures cause]

a) the boss

b) my superviser

c) colleagues I work with

d) colleagues in the office I do not work with

e) collaborators / people I delegate tasks to

f) Janitors, cleaning personnel, and other similar

5. When does the distress produces? [measures period and space specific to distress related to the office work]

a) in the working time, in the morning

b) in the working time, in the afternoon

c) in the working time, in the evening

d) during coffee breaks

e) during the lunch break

f) after the working time finishes / outside the working space

Author’s experience in questionnaire design. The Author has worked within a research group developing organizational evaluation tools. Since November 2006 to June 2007, he contributed to five questionnaire designs in students’ groups. Also, he has designed the first psychological questionnaire for application in political branding using NLP (Iaşi, 2004), for which project he was awarded the first prize at the students’ contest EconomMix in 2005, the management-marketing section.

Besides that, he has designed psychological questionnaires for own researches on parental education (2005), self-esteem (2007, 2009, 2011), insurance (2009), memory (2009), he enhanced an evaluation questionnaire for career consulting (2008).

The author can be contacted for questionnaire design consulting services at artis_consulting.training [at] yahoo [dot] com


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The Questionnaire Design for Surveys, part III

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 21/03/2012

This article is a follow-up to this one and it refers to the questions presented as an example here:

 Let’s take it step by step. First of all, methodologically. The first question uses a scale with an even number, which requires the responder to mark only one answer. The second item presents an odd number of choices out of which one, several or all can be picked by the responder. This creates confusion, because it requires the responder to use a different rule for answering question 2 from the rule use to answer question 1. No matter how well you explain, it is subject to mistake. You must eliminate these mistakes, out of respect for your work, for your personal branding as a compenetent, non-time waster professional, for the responsibility which you have towards providing actionable intelligence and for the responders’ intellectual effort.

The second question uses an unclear scale for choices, which combined with the words used in the item may create confusion.

If it’s a scale, it must be from white to black, from dark to light, from alpha to omega. You cannot play around with the responders’ perception. If the first choice is “daily”, the other choices may be “2-3 times a week”, “weekly”, “2-3 times a month”, “about once a month”, “3-4 times a year” “Yearly”.

“Pretty often “is a poor choice because what is “pretty often” for someone can be very different than what is “pretty often” for someone else. It could range in the individual perception from once a month to twice a day to all the time. Don’t use relative language. Use precise words when you measure frequency or intensity. And if you want both frequency and intensity for example, measure them with different items. Yes, that means putting the same questions again, with similar scales.

“Sometimes” is a different item for measuring frequency than “pretty often”, but it may be similar. You may use these terms together in rather a six points scale like “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes”, “pretty often” “very often”, “always”. You can also cut the extremes and have it a four points scale, conditioned that the rest of the items besides “pretty often” and “sometimes” are “rarely” and “very often”. I myself I wouldn’t use this kind of vague terms, but they are not wrong.

Let’s take a look at the first words of the item: “How often do you usually”, continued with option d), “rarely”. So the question the responder has to ask himself in order to understand what the item means in this case is: “How often do I usually rarely… ? Do I rarely often usually… ?”. It’s a non-sense. Use logic. If you aren’t used to logical thinking, learn it or drop human resources, NOW.

Another issue with the first question is the word “feel”. It’s a tricky word to use in a subjective description. In general, people are already very subjective when completing a questionnaire. Especially when you measure subjective experience of frequency, it is rather preferable to use moderate, neutral words. Besides, some people could relate more to seeing or hearing than to feeling. In formulating an item, you must respect the reality that people have different perception styles which you have to respect in order to speak on their own language. For these two reasons, it is recommendable to use the word “find” in stead of “feel”. It appears to describe a more objective experience, but in reality the subjectivity comes from the term “tension”. When using subjective nouns in items, don’t enhance it by adding subjective verbs to them. “Find” is more objective than “feel”. Pay attention to the choice of words. “If you ask wrong questions, you will get wrong answers” (3).

“When starting work” describes an unclear event. It could mean the minute entering the building, it could mean the moment actually starting doing work (after coffee, talking to the boss or a morning conference), or it could mean coming back to work after the meal. To which moment does the researcher refer?

Another thing to pay attention is that the first question refers to “working with colleagues”, when the second questions also refers to other departments or family. When you want to evaluate the organizational environment in a specific office, you focus your questions in such a manner to discover which are the elements inside the system not working. If the researcher wants to find out also the external elements, than item 1 must be restated, in order to integrate the external causes. Not to mention there is a high difference in perception weather the responder has a internal locus of control or an external locus of control in context of working in that specific environment.

The first question uses the term “tension”, the second question uses the term “pressure”. Although they may be synonyms, if you used one term for the first item, then you must also use it in the second item, too. Some people might relate differently to “tension” than to “pressure”, not to mention that “tension” is often perceived as internal, and “pressure” external. It’s not a rule, but there are subtilties to which you have to pay attention.

The second question is wrong for the beginning. If the purpose is to find the cause of a distress, you must first consider all the reasons of the distress. Let’s say, for example, that an employee has a good chair at his own office, but when joining others to work on a common project, the table around which they sit has wrong chairs for his back. The person feels psysical tension, but none of the variants are responsible for that. It’s the chair. It’s not someone’s fault, it’s something. So define well what you want to measure and what words you use for it.

Please also consider this list of articles in Romanian about research.

Author’s experience in questionnaire design. The Author has worked within a research group developing organizational evaluation tools. Since November 2006 to June 2007, he contributed to five questionnaire designs in students’ groups. Also, he has designed the first psychological questionnaire for application in political branding using NLP (Iaşi, 2004), for which project he was awarded the first prize at the students’ contest EconomMix in 2005, the management-marketing section.

Besides that, he has designed psychological questionnaires for own researches on parental education (2005), self-esteem (2007, 2009, 2011), insurance (2009), memory (2009), he enhanced an evaluation questionnaire for career consulting (2008).

The author can be contacted for questionnaire design consulting services at artis_consulting.training [at] yahoo [dot] com

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The Questionnaire Design for Surveys, part II

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 15/03/2012

Once defined the public, step yourself into their shoes. Create items in such a manner that your responder knows what to answer to very clearly. Use words (s)he will understand. For example, if you want to test someone’s knowledge on pricing in marketing, it’s preferable to ask: “How do you do decide pricing on a product?” rather then “What would be your elaborate strategy for recommending a pricing scheme according to the market, organizational requirements and financial parameters?”. Think simple. Let your questions to clearly state what you desire from that person. Before doing pretesting, use your common sense. What would you answer to that question, if you were asked as a responder? That is the most important frame of mind to consider when doing a questionnaire, because sometimes people are creating questionnaires without even having a clear purpose of what they want to know.

What would be the questions to ask yourself before formulating any items?

  • What is the final structure in which I am going to prelucrate the answer to this question?

  • How am I going to use the specific information from this question?

  • How will I correlate the answer from this item with answers to other items? How can I formulate questions in such a manner to help find better what I want?

  • What is the best items type I can use to structure this question?

  • What would be a better question to find out the same answer I’m going after?

Another common sense thing to consider is use logic when creating items.

Let’s say you formulate an item with multiple choice, addressed to present employees, with only one correct answer, for the purpose of annually evaluating organizational environment in an office with 40 people. This item is one of those which is designed into the subjective individual perception over group behavior category.

Poor item conceptualization

1. How often do you usually feel tension at work around the colleagues when starting to work?

  1. daily

  2. pretty often

  3. sometimes

  4. rarely

2. To who do you attribute this pressure?

  1. to the boss

  2. to the colleagues

  3. to other departments

  4. to the work itself

  5. to the family

Can these items be functional? Just in appearance. The truth is these are some very poorly conceived items.

What’s poor in these two linked items?

Please also consider this list of articles in Romanian about research.

Author’s experience in questionnaire design. The Author has worked within a research group developing organizational evaluation tools. Since November 2006 to June 2007, he contributed to five questionnaire designs in students’ groups. Also, he has designed the first psychological questionnaire for application in political branding using NLP (Iaşi, 2004), for which project he was awarded the first prize at the students’ contest EconomMix in 2005, the management-marketing section.

Besides that, he has designed psychological questionnaires for own researches on parental education (2005), self-esteem (2007, 2009, 2011), insurance (2009), memory (2009), he enhanced an evaluation questionnaire for career consulting (2008).

The author can be contacted for questionnaire design consulting services at artis_consulting.training [at] yahoo [dot] com

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The Questionnaire Design for Surveys, part I

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 11/03/2012

Motto: „How often do you prefer not to think hard about the questions you ask?

a) Always b) In Most Cases c) Sometimes d) Soft

There’s a way of doing the right things in the right way. Fortunately for me, I’ve been to a good school for formulating items in questionnaire design and I must tell you the best way for being ethical about this is to do it the right way. There is no room for creativity in the beginning. If you want to explore research methodology, I congratulate you, but chances are, if you’re not a researcher by profession, you won’t choose to do that. Keep your creativity for formulating items. I will guide you through the important things to consider while doing this process.

First of all, any questionnaire, weather psychological or for marketing, has a niche. A target, well defined, like the advertising agencies do it. As a personal note, I think the most advanced profiling system is being done by Leo Burnett (excepting, of course some of the branding agencies, which might have more advanced tools).

Which are the goals of the questionnaire? Depending on what you want to find out, you can have one or more goals. But keep in mind a questionnaire cannot cover all the possible things you would be interested in. Once, a corporate HR manager came to me and she told me she wanted an instrument to measure job performance of present employees and to evaluate their potential to attaining higher positions in the company. I told her she had to decide. There is a structure for putting questions for evaluating one’s potential and there is another structure for evaluating present performance. Present performance is evaluated through effectiveness in relation to the job description, to the objective results and to the peers and potential evaluation is something rather closer to job specification and it requires a psychological approach in questionnaire design.

This may seem natural, but, amazingly, over 90 % of the Romanian recruiters which design an interview questionnaire for hiring don’t know what the want to find out (1). They simply ask classical questions, hoping to hit something relevant. It’s like Ionuţ Ciurea (2) told me once, on the amateurism of beginners: “If you asked a lot of questions, it’s impossible not to hit something”.

Once you have chosen the goals of the questionnaire, decide what type of questions will you use.

  • Will it be a qualitative research or a quantitative research? Will it be mixed?

  • What is the infrastructure for registering answers in a database? Will you choose Excel, Open Office, SPSS, LISREL, or another program?

  • Will the items be opened or on choice?

  • Do you prefer multiple choice items or bipolar items?

  • Will you use a scale?

  • Will you use a Likert scale in 5 or in 7 grades / points?

  • Will you use an odd number of grades to the scale or will it be even?

  • Why do you prefer to use an odd number, or an even number , for the grades to the scale?

This is not a manual in research, but you should have answers to all of these questions before beginning. This is not rocket science. It’s common-sense before doing a questionnaire. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, DROP THE QUESTIONNAIRE!!! Learn how to do it or give it to someone else. If you do not, chances are you’re going to waste the organization’s time and the responders also. People are not obligated to support your learning process. It’s tough, but that’s how it is.

Please also consider this list of articles in Romanian about research.

Author’s experience in questionnaire design. The Author has worked within a research group developing organizational evaluation tools. Since November 2006 to June 2007, he contributed to five questionnaire designs in students’ groups. Also, he has designed the first psychological questionnaire for application in political branding using NLP (Iaşi, 2004), for which project he was awarded the first prize at the students’ contest EconomMix in 2005, the management-marketing section.

Besides that, he has designed psychological questionnaires for own researches on parental education (2005), self-esteem (2007, 2009, 2011), insurance (2009), memory (2009), he enhanced an evaluation questionnaire for career consulting (2008).

The author can be contacted for questionnaire design consulting services at artis_consulting.training [at] yahoo [dot] com


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Personal Development Goals in 2012

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 08/03/2012

In december 2011, I have done the 2011 360 degrees evaluation of my personal brand. I have written about the methodology here [en, blog] , I have been interviewed about it here [ro, blog] and I have teached it here [ro, blog] and here [ro, blog]. Here you have the Synthesis of my personal brand attributes for 2011 [en, pdf]. And here you have the analysis [en, pdf]. I have kept the 2011 analysis from March 2012 till May 2013. In May 2013 I have removed it, as I considered it outdated.

Therefore, I have decided to deal with the conclusions in the following order

I declare war to:

1. Negligence

2. Annoying persistence

3. Pride & prejudice

4. Attention scattering

5. Inflexibility

6. Losing in details

7. Discounting

8. Lack of empathy

9. Disorder

10. Useless theories & impractical dreams

Top ten abilities to develop

1. Seriousness & reliability

2. Dettachment

3. Faith

4. Creativity

5. Organization

6. Expresiveness

7. Optimism

8. Concision

9. Balance, calm

10. Data & rights security

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Job Publishing

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 16/02/2012

We hire secretary as assistant manager. The perfect age is 20. The minimum experience requirement is 30 years.

There are two professional categories which might be interested in this articles. The first is, of course, the beneficiaries of the Job Announcement. The other is the Job Publishing Providers.

The purpose of publishing a job announcement is to get a message between the emitter to the receiver. Pretty simple, huh? In theory, yes. But let’s keep in mind the definition.

For the HR specialist

Now, you should have a clear way of communicating right to the target.

Let me put you some questions for you, the HR manager conducting the Advertising for Recruting:

Where is the future employee for your organization spending time? How much time?

What does he read? Where? When? How much?

What are the best methods of getting his or her attention? Keep in mind everyone these days masters the channels through which information is filtered.

What would be the simplest, fastest, easiest path between your message and the future employee?

What are the values of the employee? Use them as key words in your message.

What are the patterns of thinking, behaving, talking which make your future employee observable? Talk his or her language.

What are the most prolific pathways of finding employees in the past?

What are the ways other people in the industry obtain better employees? Find them, use them.

What does the employment message say about you?

What questions does your ad answer?

What is the promise that your ad makes? You have the responsibility towards your future employees and to other candidates to provide a correct image over your company, through the announcement.

What differentiates your message from the competition?

All these seem like very Advertising-oriented questions. Some delusion themselves into thinking HR is all you must know in order to do an HR job. Wrong. But be patient. You can count on the fact that the adversaries who know to create proper messages for future employees will steal the best employees you dream of.

Another aspect you must pay attention to is the development and the creation of your Organization’s Brand as an Employer. Is this vision in accord to the brand of the organization, and its development? Is there a coherent story, beyond the brand?

Keeping in attention this aspect might be the difference between attracting prestige and making a fool of yourself. Beware that even people might not tell you in the face: “You are incompetent”, count on the fact that your mistakes will be remembered, by your employers, by your employees, by your HR fellows and by your competition. Getting employees is one of the most public actions you could do, as an HR specialist.

Communication is the area of expertise for both the HR person and for the advertiser. The difference is the advertiser communicates to large audiences for a living most of the time, as a difference to the HR person, who especially manages internal communication. The HR specialist would certainly be better on consulting with an external communication specialist before publishing anything related to the company’s image, even for those announcements where the company is not specified.

To all this, keep in mind, the promotion provider has no obligation to give you advice on distributing your message towards different channels, it can simply take the message as is and deliver it.

The ad distributor

Weather it may happen through an Advertising Agency, or through an HR Consulting Company, or through a media agency, or a campaign design and executed in-house, the ad distributor has the responsibility of providing a proper message for the customer. Of course, the ad buyer might give an improper ad. If this fails, than it will come again and again, to publish other ads. But in the end, this becomes associated with a bad experience and in a certain moment someone will think of cutting down some costs. This means no more money for an ad provider. To a certain extent, this is a “do to others like you want to be done to you”. Finding new customers for job ads might be as soliciting for an ad distributor as finding good employees for the customers ran by the agencies.

Of course, in a moment of market development, you can count on the fact that request will surpass the offer. But someone who builds a business around a trend is not a real businessman, but an opportunist.

Anyway, it can’t hurt to position yourself as a full service provider, having a few consultants to customize the client’s message. Sometimes, this is reduced to using old templates, like a mercenary and not as a self-respecting services provider. The companies which appreciate efficiency will become attracted by your services if you provide affordable rates of success, rather than coming again and again, out of HR specialists incapability of formulating a targeted message.

In some moments, other organizations’ stupidity might work as an insurance for what you’re doing, but for how long can you have success by counting on other’s stupidity? Wouldn’t it make more sense on differentiating yourself through offering the success creating the best service on the market? 

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