I received a really interesting question from a commenter who wanted to know how to handle a specific type of element in an interview process. Let’s say the interview is evaluating you on four elements A, B, C and D, with perhaps D being communications. In a traditional interview process, and the default of most managers, they’ll ask you three questions:
About Element A
About Element B
About Element C
And then they’ll grade D for communications on how you did across all three questions.… Read the rest
I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to do some Friday Questions, and there is a really persistent question that people in non-managerial positions have trouble wrapping their heads around. In the shortest form, someone wants to go on an assignment, and their boss said no. They think it’s mean of their boss, and they want to know why the person is such a jerk.… Read the rest
Someone on Reddit asked this question this past week, and it is a great question because it brings in a combination of culture, classification, and delegation authorities. I’ve decided to use it for my first Friday Question for HR issues in the federal government.
The question is often answered with an easy response — no — but not quite for the reasons most people assume.… Read the rest
When people ask me about HR interviews for government, my answer is pretty standard. As per the guide, all interview questions are tied to the statement of merit criteria. And, in almost all cases, that means they are focusing on Experiences, Knowledge, Abilities, or Personal Suitability. Seems relatively straightforward, right?
Now, if you add in the fact that your cover letter / initial screening deals with experience, and a written exam normally knocks off most knowledge if there was a knowledge component identified at all, then the interview becomes more about abilities or personal suitability.… Read the rest
This past week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Young Professionals Network at Health Canada about HR processes and what happens after a pool is established. Earlier sessions had already covered how to get into the public service and how to prepare and participate in various processes. There were a LOT of questions provided before the session and even more posted in the chat during the event, so I offered to try and do a blog response for some of the pieces I didn’t get to during the event or where I didn’t have the luxury to go into more detail.… Read the rest
Yep, I started with a trilogy and ended up with 9 posts. A few people have said, “What if I miss one?”. I don’t think of that as a normal risk per se, but sure, I can do a single post with all nine linked…
When it comes to figuring out the way forward, we’re pretty much at showtime. In September, departments started mandating RTW options, “forcing” people into the office as it is pitched by employees and unions.
Some people want to argue whether the government as the employer has the right to make the decision unilaterally.… Read the rest
My normal schtick is description. I explain why something is like it is, why seemingly opaque decisions or processes are not as dense as people might think. Other than sharing tips and tricks in my HR guide, I rarely try to tell people to do x or y. I’ve been a bit more directive on some of these topics, maybe a bit more rant-y.… Read the rest
When I started this series of posts two weeks ago, it was with the intent simply to share some views on what’s going on for preparations around Return to Work options in the federal government. I’d been seeing a bunch of stuff online where people were saying, “Hey management is a bunch of idiots, everything is working fine, blah blah blah”, and while that may be an employee/bottom-up view, it is NOT what management is seeing looking “down”.… Read the rest
I’ve been struggling to figure out how to organize this post, ever since I started the first one in the series. I want to talk about what departments are doing, but I don’t want it to be some sort of inventory. That’s not why I’m writing. I don’t care if Fisheries is doing one thing and Environment is doing another.… Read the rest
So let’s recap my series so far and reorder the elements a bit. Hardly revolutionary, but decisions about RTW will be taken in a larger context:
Pre-pandemic “norms” that assumed everyone was working “in the office” but that even face-to-face interactions were not enough, transactions and communications were not enough, you still needed intentional effort to make proper connections;
Early pandemic transitioning to WFH and rolling out of all the cyber tools we take for granted now, while managers have been left to mostly “muddle through” too;
Throughout the pandemic, public servants have been working with their paycheques intact, and relatively speaking, being spared much of the extreme personal economic, social and financial disruption that every other sector has experienced in the last 2+ years; and,
Executives looking at the emerging-from-pandemic world and seeing not only that things are not all working perfectly, even if many employees don’t see the cracks, but also that there are huge risks looming on the horizon.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the public service (not necessarily federal, but mostly), and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard the story about the health townhall meeting where one of the executives suggested that going back into the office was a good thing because you could go to Subway for lunch and support local business.… Read the rest
For all the departments looking to have people back in the office, they frequently will use the phrase, “So, yeah, we’re looking to have people back in the office at least some of the time because the research shows that it’s better.”
And when they say it, most people listening think it is complete bullsh**.… Read the rest
In the world of performance measurement, a friend and I have a cynical joke between us that it seems like every year is a baseline year for some programs…if you’re always moving the baseline, there’s never anything to measure or report other than activities undertaken. There’s no standard for success. When it comes to the question of working from home, any year up to the end of 2019 would have been a baseline year, and there is still not much evidence of a performance standard for success.… Read the rest
As everyone has seen over the last 2.5 years, every business entity has had to deal with the labour organization aspects of the pandemic. Separate from all the labour and health and safety issues, or supply-chain issues, one of the most pervasive questions has simply been one of location. Could employees work from home or did they need to return to work at a specified location?… Read the rest
If anyone has read my HR guide, you already know that there are notices of appointments that go up on the Jobs.gc.ca portal. When it is a non-advertised appointment, and it says promotion, you really have almost no idea why the person is being promoted. It just says “non-advertised” and “promotion”.… Read the rest
Normally when I write about HR, I do so as a public servant talking to other public servants on how to prepare for competitions. I might draw on my own experiences competing or running processes from the other side of the table. But rarely do I write as simply a manager talking about my job.… Read the rest
For those who work in government, almost universally around the globe, the workforce response to the pandemic was pretty much the same. Everybody pivoted to work from home (WFH). And as time goes on, people are generally coming to the conclusion that WFH was not as terrible as everybody used to think, the current “normal” is generally working in many if not most areas, and so as people discuss how to “build back better” (BBB), there is a general informal consensus that BBB means WFH is now permanent.… Read the rest
Harvard Business Review’s mailing include a link to a cool article by Jeanne C. Meister about what HR people will be doing in the future, or doing “more of” in the future, given the impact of COVID-19 and the likely enduring switch to working from home. It’s based on a think piece from one of the thousands of organizations looking at the “future of work”, and there are tons of these reports coming out, as they have for the last five years.… Read the rest