Tag Archives: cooperation

How to Interview for Human Relations Skills

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
Okay, we got integrity, customer care and individual initiative. The last value we want to interview for is our people. By that, I mean respect for others, support for others, collaboration and cooperation.

Response:
Same model as the past couple of days, interviewing for an attitude, a characteristic or soft skill.

  1. Identify the behavior connected to the attitude or characteristic.
  2. Identify a circumstance where we might see that behavior.
  3. Develop questions about the behavior.

Your description identifies some behavioral things, like collaboration, cooperation and support. That’s a good start. Your team can likely come up with more related behaviors to the value you have in mind.

Connected behaviors

  • Collaboration, or cooperation on a team
  • Support for another teammate
  • Respect for a manager, or respect for another team mate

Behavior – Collaboration or cooperation in a team.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that required multiple steps and multiple people to solve a problem?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the problem?
  • How many steps involved?
  • How many people on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • To solve the problem, how did the team have to work together?
  • When the team worked well together, what happened?
  • When the team did not work well together, what happened?
  • When the team did not work well together, what was the impact on the project?
  • How did the team know when it was working well together and not so well together?
  • When the team did not work well together, what did it do to start working better together? What steps were taken? What was said?

Behavior – Supporting another teammate.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where another team member was taking the lead, but some team members disagreed with the work method or sequence of work?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose (goal, objective) of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • What was the leader’s role on the project team?
  • What was the disagreement about?
  • What words were said?
  • Which side of the disagreement were you on?
  • How was the situation resolved?

Behavior – Respect for a manager, or respect for another team mate.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where you disagreed with the manager about a work method or sequence of work?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • What was the disagreement about?
  • How did you approach the disagreement?
  • What words were said?
  • How was the situation resolved?

You can interview for any attitude, characteristic or soft skill, as long as you can connect it to behaviors.

The Danger of Healthy Competition

“It was worse than I thought,” Reggie stated flatly. “What I didn’t realize when I opened up this little fracas, was that the competition started long ago. I nosed around some of my sources. It’s been a dysfunctional fight for the past six months, with not only my three internal candidates, but two others. They are all spread across three departments, so I never saw it.”

“What’s been going on?” I asked.

“Mostly, it’s the subtle non-cooperation of one department with another. Convenient delays, rough hand-offs, missing information. Nothing malicious or brazen, but I have five people working against each other, working against the company.”

“Who’s the culprit?”

Reggie’s demeanor changed. He sat straight up in his chair. The nerve was struck. Chin down, looking over his glasses, furrowed brow, he finally spoke. “I’m the culprit. I tried to create a little healthy competition, but what I created was an environment where individual agendas were more important that teamwork. I created intense internal focus within each department, when I need cooperation between departments.”

“How do we fix it?”

“First, we have to start with the culprit,” Reggie shrugged. “And that would be me.”

How Does Hierarchy Promote Cooperation?

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
I recently attended one of your Time Span workshops and want to know how hierarchy promotes cooperation?

Response:
The short answer is accountability.  Inherent in the structure of hierarchy is accountability.  Unfortunately, most managers misunderstand the purpose for hierarchy and where accountability is appropriately placed.

Most managers believe that hierarchy is a reporting structure.  Even our language misguides us.  “Who is the new guy going to report to?”  This is not the central question.

The definition of a manager is, that person held accountable for the output of other people.  The question is not “who should the new guy report to?”  The central question is, which manager can be held accountable for the new guy’s output?”

When managers begin to understand accountability, the whole game changes.  Hierarchy provides us with a visual representation, of which manager is accountable for the output of the team.

When managers begin to understand that they are accountable for the output of their team, attitudes change and behavior changes.  Behaviors change from controlling and directing to supporting and coaching.  Every employee is entitled to have a competent manager with the time span capability to bring value to their problem solving and decision making.

The purpose of hierarchy is to create that value stream, where managers, one stratum above (in capability) bring value to the problem solving and decision making of their team members.  For ultimately, it is the manager who is accountable for their output.