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Good Habits Bad Habits

1. This is where an unrelated to HR tangent that will *eventually* get to the HR point starts.1 My biggest weakness is probably that I don’t think about how much time anything I do will take before I start doing it. I just set a goal and jump right in.

Some of the time I get away with this because I have a reasonably strong 2. This isn’t a brag, (I think) it’s a disorder. I’ve fallen asleep before 10 pm without some sort of sleeping medication perhaps two dozen times in the past decade. I typically call it a night around 1 am. I would really like to go to bed earlier, but I have to violently accost my mind with a relatively high volume of information before it will let me rest – just the way I’m wired.work ethic, 2 but more often than not my complete disregard for the amount of time and energy required to do something eventually catches up with me.

Case in point: about two weeks ago I decided I was going to write a blog post about something HR related every day in perpetuity. I love to write and I read about 15,000 words of HR material a night anyway, so I said to myself: “Why not?”

Thirteen days later I am mentally exhausted.

My current nightly process is as follows: I typically settle in at around 6:00 pm, start reading HR articles/blogs/studies from my RSS feed at 6:30 pm, finish reading everything I’ve subscribed to that has been posted that day at around 9:30 pm, then immediately start my research/writing process. I write until I get tired of writing and then wrap up – typically around 11:00 pm. Finally I do my editing/HTML formatting, finish that up around 11:30 pm, and then I put together my content sharing deck (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+) for the next day. This takes me to about 1 am… I then finally go to sleep, get up at 6:45 am, and get ready for work.

I’ve been doing the other stuff for a while now, but adding in the blog posting has taken up the two nightly hours that were part of my extremely coveted 3. Time where I stare at the ceiling while the fan hums/listen to an audio-book etc. – quiet time, basically.“downtime” 3 and has made my life one continuous stream of thinking about HR all night and then doing HR all day.

So as I said, I am getting a bit tired.

As usually happens when my unrealistic expectations get the better of my good intentions, tonight I finally stepped back and developed a strategy. I decided there would be no more 1,400-1,500 word post. Unless it’s the weekend (you can stay up as late as you need to when you don’t have work the next day), I’m going to keep it under 1,000. And if I haven’t put together my social media deck by midnight then it won’t go out for the following day (the few people that read it can I’m sure do without). 12 am to 1 am are now for quiet staring at the ceiling time and/or listening to audio-books/podcast… and the remainder of the night (or day if you will) is for sleeping.

4. Bolded for those that wanted to skip right to the HR part – people’s eyes are drawn to bold text.This brings me to the end of the tangent and today’s subject. 4

There are five key behaviors every great talent has – today I want to tell you about two of them (in the spirit of keeping this under 1,000 characters we will talk about the other three tomorrow).

The person in this image appears to have been working hard, but then she went to sleep.

The person in this image appears to have been working hard, but then she went to sleep.

The first of these behaviors (well, the first one I’m posting about – there’s no rank order) is – as you may have guessed from the post title and my opening rant – work ethic. If a candidate has a truly great work ethic and it shows in an interview I will often pass him/her on to a second round interview even if he/she is deficient in a number of other areas. Why? Because the majority content in most jobs (even exempt ones, really) doesn’t require a high degree of independent discretion and judgement. And even when a job does require them, most of the time said exercise of independent discretion and judgement must then undergo another layer of review from someone higher up the reporting chain.

Basically, this means that in most jobs the margin for error is reasonably large. 

The ability to learn how to do a job is significantly impacted by having the work ethic to learn the role. Most jobs are in fact learned “on the job” regardless of what one learned in school/their previous role. The reason for this is because the majority of job content is usually so company-specific that (with the exception of highly technical roles) success is more correlated with perseverance than with what one knows.

I am not discarding experience or the value of a degree here. In many roles it’s indeed important to bring deep subject matter expertise to the table one’s first day on the job. But even in these roles once we get past the table stakes (or minimum requirements, if you prefer) much of one’s success in a job comes down to how much effort they are willing to put into learning it.

Never underestimate the value of the thinking cap.

Never underestimate the value of the thinking cap.

This brings me to the 2nd key behavior that all great talent has – Strategic Thinking Ability. A candidate can have all the work ethic and discipline in the world, but if he/she can’t think strategically then at some point he/she will hit a wall.

The ability to step back and say “This isn’t sustainable” or “This isn’t working” is an integral part of even the most unskilled jobs. To a certain extent we’re talking matter of degree here, but almost every job requires an incumbent to be able to step back and say “We’ll need to try something else here – this isn’t working because of X.” at some point.

Ultimately, work ethic/discipline and the ability to think strategically are important at every level of work. Both qualities are among the first things I 5. And we’re at our word limit, so I bid you good night.screen for when assessing a candidate for any job, and you should too. 5

As always, share your thoughts below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com