Monday, September 27, 2010

Gossip At Work

By Barbara LaBier

Gossip at work benefits individuals and organizations—although in some manager’s opinion it is derogatory. When caught gossipers are punished with lower performance ratings.

Doctoral students in management from the University of Kentucky performed a study surveying 30-40 employees about their social networks and who they gossiped with and the influence that each colleague had. The more staff members gossiped the more influence they showed and the better was their understanding of their social environment.

Gossip can be useful if there is change going on in an organization when the flow of information is stifled then the few that are in the know can spread it and relieve anxiety. Conventional wisdom says just the opposite – supposedly gossip breeds stress and uncertainty. While it can cause fear research shows it does the reverse by building an emotional connection which provides social and emotional support. On the negative side, gossip consists of half-truths and hearsay and can absorb the staff’s time. So how can it be valuable?

By studying the network the study indicates it’s easy to discover who is a bully, or who is difficult to work with. For the manager it can be a great tool for hearing troublesome issues. Positive gossip is more typical than negative. Out of 72 percent of gossip relationships, positive gossip ranked 21 % while negative was only 7%.

Some bosses believe that gossip is subversive because the more someone gossips the more influence they have among peers. In away, it has a democratizing force and levels the playing field between managers and employees and is a threat to bosses who want complete control. In this study managers gave lower ratings to employees who gossiped more. Often managers try to squelch gossip without addressing the problems that was generating it.

Managers gossip too, because they say they need a lot of information to do their work. But are they gossiping with the right people? Do they say what the manager thinks or introduce information about the state of the company or are they people who are critical about the functioning of the company. If they are not happy at work, they can find many ways o bring the organization down. The number of people supervisors gossip with  are 7.4 people. The average numbers of people nonsupevisors gossip with are 3.9. 

The study was carried on by Giuseppe Joe Labianca , a Gatton Endowed Associate Professor of Management at the University of Kentucky/ Linked Center for Research on Social networks in business exam med social interactions in a branch of a US company

Gossip At Work

This article was excerpted from the August/September 2010, Harvard Business Review.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Resume Do I Submit For a Federal Job? by Barbara LaBier

The appropriate “Resume” to submit for a Federal job has become confusing. Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to focus on corporate resumes and eliminate KSA’s--- the majority of agencies still do their own thing. The best advice is to read each job description and instructions carefully before applying for a federal job because each agency has different standards.

The Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities questions are known in govspeak as KSAs. Answers to these questions show that you are qualified for advertised jobs. During the 1980’s, KSAs were originally used as a replacement for the old civil service exams. A few agencies have stopped using them, including the Army and the U.S. Customs Service. Others, however, are still requiring them.

According to The Office of Personnel Management KSAs will soon be a thing of the past. The Obama administration has asked agencies to stop requiring the time-consuming essays and instead accept a corporate resume. The government form when compared with a corporate resume contains details such as an employer’s name, phone number, address, time at the job, salary, and references for each job. The corporate resume on the other hand is about two pages. The text is written in phrases and may contain a career summary and never reveals salary for each position.

Elimination of KSAs is part of a comprehensive initiative by the Obama administration to overhaul the federal government’s hiring process. Right now, the USAJOBS form filled out on-line is acceptable by all agencies. Go to the USAJOBS site to research and apply for jobs. This format used to be called the “Remix” resume and was updated six months ago.  Some agencies will still accept a 171. Depending on the agency you are applying to, once this form is completed on line, you may be transferred to another registry where there is yet another form to fill out during the application process. Paying attention to the closing date and time is also very important. You don’t want to be shuffled from different registries as the window of time disappears as you try to make the application deadline.

For the moment, KSAs (and their equivalent for senior executive positions, the ECQs) are still a reality for the vast majority of federal jobs and they are taken seriously by HR officials. Make sure your answers be error free by using spell check and the help of a friend to proofread for you.

Rely on your resume for information. Your challenge is to insert everything that would be in your normal private-sector resume somewhere in concise and coherent answers to the questions.

As far as KSA’s are concerned you must fill out every question to your fullest ability. Some questions may require research to complete because you may have forgotten the material they refer to. If you don’t have the complete response nailed you may get partial credit. You want to emphasize experiences and examples that support your answer to the question. If you have to repeat information in another KSA rewrite it focusing on other points. Also important is to emphasize recent achievement, degrees, certifications and training.