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Via Polsinelli : Employer Beware: Considerations When Hiring a Competitor’s Employees

Restrictive covenants, such as non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, typically assist employers to protect their legitimate business interests. When properly drafted and implemented, an employer can use these types of agreements to limit an employee’s ability to unfairly compete after he or she concludes employment.

However, restrictive covenants cannot be used to prohibit regular, ordinary competition. While some employers may be deterred from considering an otherwise qualified applicant who is subject to post-employment restrictive covenants, there are steps employers can take to limit their exposure to claims of unfair competition when interviewing and hiring employees subject to these kinds of restrictions.

  • Ask about restrictions at the earliest reasonable and possible opportunity. Be specific when asking about any agreements in which these provisions might be contained. However, take care to avoid discussing the applicant’s former employer’s confidential information.
  • Obtain a copy of the agreement or agreements if a decision to hire is likely and review and analyze the enforceability of the restrictive covenants at issue, as well as whether the applicant can perform the position without violating the restrictions.
  • Clearly instruct the applicant not to disclose any confidential information, even if volunteered. Depending on the restrictions at issue, the new employer may also need to instruct the applicant not to solicit any of the former employer’s customers, clients, or employees. Consider also including an attestation to that effect in the offer letter or employment agreement.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of litigation. Assess the circumstances of the employee’s departure, the similarities between the former position and the new role, the nature of the industry and proprietary information or trade secrets at issue, the business relationship (if any) between the hiring employer and the former employer, and the former employer’s propensity for litigation, among other things.

Employers that determine that hiring an applicant subject to restrictive covenants justifies the risks of doing so would do well to discuss proactive options with an attorney. In some situations, opening the line of communication with the former employer prior to – for example – receipt of a cease-and-desist letter demanding the termination of new hire’s employment can be very productive.

The existence of restrictive covenants, standing alone, should not in all cases discourage employers from hiring an otherwise qualified candidate. With careful planning, a savvy employer can substantially limit its exposure to interference and misappropriation claims and position itself with a strong defense should the former employer decide to pursue action against it.

Via CIO : 11 bad hiring habits that will burn you

From dragging out the process to missing red flags, missteps in the hiring process can lead to talent shortages, retention issues and mismatches that often derail team cohesion and productivity.

Ask IT experts what’s wrong with the hiring process and the same problems appear. It takes too long. Job descriptions aren’t on point. The hiring tools are out of date. There’s too little communication. And diversity goals remain unmet.

The worst part? It’s a lose-lose for both parties. Experienced candidates get passed over. Job hunters with potential are overlooked. Red flags are ignored, and even when the hire is made, it’s often a bad fit. The process is broken.

The good news is that focusing on the design of the hiring process — rather than short-term needs, on the fly — can help. If you make sure everyone in the process contributes meaningfully to the effort and use metrics to evaluate the success of your hires, you can get your hiring process back on track. Read on to identify and avoid hiring methods that create more headaches than they solve.

Dragging out the process

IT pros have long bemoaned the time it takes to hear back from prospective employers — and the long wait to get an offer letter. Kelly Finn, a principal consultant for the IT search division at recruiter WinterWyman, says things start heading south when your interview process takes too long.

“Candidates get soured on the company and assume it’s not well run in general,” she says. “There’s also the risk of losing candidates to other offers.”

Of course, rushing the process can also lead to negative outcomes. Better communication from the beginning, though, can help.

“Set their expectations on your timeline, and treat every entry-level hire as you would a senior hire,” says Liz Wessel, CEO and co-founder of WayUp, a site for early career job hunters. “One way that we’ve been able to create meaningful dialogue with our candidates is by sending them engaging content — press coverage, blog articles, or videos — about the company, the role, or the team. In doing so, we can maintain communication with the candidate and create an ongoing rapport, even if the process is dragged out over a couple of months.”

Overreliance on standardized tests

While they’re useful for making sure candidates have the aptitude for an IT job, some organizations put too much stock in technical and personality-driven testing, says WinterWyman’s Finn.

“Many tests don’t tell the full story of a candidate’s skills or work style,” she says. “Relying too heavily on them might eliminate a great candidate with potential. Also, many people are simply not good test takers.”

Brad Davis, branch manager of information technology at Addison Group, suggests asking technical questions during the interview instead of subjecting IT pros to test taking on their own time.

“Skilled IT professionals are a hot commodity in today’s market,” Davis says. “Some of these candidates may have four or more opportunities available to them at any given time. Between their current work schedules and interviewing for other positions, many of these candidates don’t feel the need to complete hiring tests or skills assessments. Some of their other opportunities may not require them, and most companies can’t afford to miss out on top talent by requiring testing. To solve this, hiring managers should ask technical questions during an interview to get a feel for candidates’ skill levels without requiring lengthy testing.”

Radio silence

The asymmetrical nature of the employer and soon-to-be employed by its nature can leave a candidate feeling uninformed and anxious. You want to provide clear feedback, Finn says, and updates on where the process stands.

“Everyone appreciates an update and constructive criticism,” she says. “It’s also important to respond to candidates who are not going to be considered for the role. A reasonable benchmark would be to respond within one week if possible. This can be as simple as an automated response that lets the candidate know that their application has been received, but you’re considering other candidates who are a stronger fit. The good will that this generates goes a long way toward maintaining a positive impression of your company in the market.”

Job descriptions that shoot for the moon

Hiring experts say they frequently see job descriptions and requirements have little bearing on reality. This frequent mistake — classic overreach — can put off qualified candidates or lead to a bad fit.

“Job descriptions should very clearly differentiate the must-have items from the nice-to-have items,” Finn says. “If a job description looks unrealistic, candidates will question a manager’s expectations and even their management style.”

Elissa Tucker is a principal research lead at performance improvement and benchmarking firm APQC. She says job requirements have become a sort of hiring manager wish list.

“These lofty rather than practical criteria narrow the candidate pool and increase the risk that the new hire will be overqualified, grow dissatisfied, and leave the position prematurely,” Tucker says. “Craft job requirements that reflect the minimum capabilities needed to learn a role over time and take into account which capabilities are realistically available. The recruiter and hiring manager need to have frank conversations about which capabilities are truly required to do the job and how much the hiring manager and organization are willing to pay to secure them.”

Untrained hiring managers

Some hiring managers head into interviews with a list of questions that they expect will show off a candidate’s strengths and weed out weaker prospects. Jamie Winter of APTMetrics, an organization staffed by Industrial-Organizational psychologists, says the well-worn list isn’t enough to make a good hire.

“New hiring managers in particular and hiring managers in general need additional guidance on how to ask follow-up questions to gather valid data during the interview,” Winter says. “Then they need to apply scoring standards to fairly evaluate the data they collect in the interview. If the organization uses other tools like tests, hiring managers should be provided with training on how to use the data to help them make better decisions. This creates fairness, accuracy and consistency in how candidates are evaluated.”

Letting a vacancy drive your hiring process

It’s unwise to develop your hiring strategy at the moment you realize a position needs to be filled. Yet all too often, that’s what happens, Tucker says.

“A better approach,” she says, “is for HR and business leaders to meet at least yearly to anticipate future hiring needs and brainstorm candidate sources. Then recruiters and employees can foster connections with these sources and candidates. When a position opens, the recruiter already has a pool of promising candidates to reach out to.”

Mike Bailen, vice president of people at Lever, proposes a standardized kickoff meeting, between managers and recruiters, before the search begins.

“In the meeting,” Bailen says, “stakeholders can cover a few areas: calibrating the perfect role profile, getting clear on what you need to be evaluating, and brainstorming areas of focus for the interview team. If you don’t take enough time to both identify the competencies of the ideal candidate and how you’ll assess them, you could find yourself with a slower time-to-fill, messy funnel, or a hire that’s poor a fit. At the very worst, this lack of clarity could lead to unfair hiring practices and bias. Each interviewer on your panel should have a detailed understanding of how they can contribute to the process: what they are assessing, why that focus is important, and strategies that will help them evaluate the candidate as objectively as possible.”

Missing red flags

If a red flag appears in the interview, says APTMetrics’ Winter, pay attention and amplify that by 10 to envision the problems you’ll be facing once the hiring is over. He recalls an instance years ago when he wished he had listened to his instincts. Instead, he paid the price.

“During the interview I asked a question about this person’s ability to work with others,” Winter says. “The candidate gave an example of a time when she was working on an important and highly visible project with another person and suddenly the person just stopped working with her and told her she could complete the project any way she wanted.”

Winter thought it sounded odd, but the candidate described the situation in a way that made her appear blameless, and he ignored the story. “I hired this person because her credentials were really great. Well, over a period of about 11 months before this person left the firm, there were several issues related to her ability to work with others on the team and many hours of very unproductive time dealing with these issues. Had I paid attention to the red flag I picked up in the interview, the bad hire could have been avoided.”

Failing to look within

Faced with a looming vacancy, most hiring managers and recruiters look outside the organization to start their search, and it can lead to the same sources and same types of candidates, year after year, says APQC’s Tucker.

“These practices make it harder to find a match, add time to the hiring process, and lead the employer to miss the best candidates,” she says. “Both HR and managers should seek out and support internal talent moves.”

One way to improve internal recruiting is to create an inventory of staff skills and keep it up to date, she suggests. And HR managers should broaden their search to include contract and part-time, job sharing and remote workers.

Passing on potential

If you’re hiring a junior position, and especially if you’re looking at recent grads, WayUp’s Wessel advises weighing their upside rather than their work experience.

“Focus on their leadership abilities, their communication skills, and how well they function on a team,” she says. “Don’t get bogged down in the fact they don’t match everything in the job description. If you hire the candidates with potential, they’ll grow within your organization, and begin checking off those boxes over time. Consider a student’s part-time work experience as real work experience. After all, over 80 percent of college students work their way through school.”

Failing to focus on communication skills

Dave Smith, senior director of engineering at DigitalOcean, says that hiring managers need to consider soft skills and think through how new hires will exchange ideas, collaborate, and execute efficiently on big projects.

“I like to test people’s communications skills in interviews by asking them to tell me their story,” Smiths says. “For example, their resume in chronological order: Where did they start their career, and what was the journey like from there? How people respond here gives me a good sense of their career trajectory, but also how they communicate on a topic they know well.”

Inability to create a diverse staff

Hiring managers looking to create a diverse workforce often get in their own way, says Wessel. She lays out the scenario she’s seen multiple times especially in large firms.

“The HR teams say they are looking for a specific type of candidate,” Wessel says. “For example, a diverse candidate pool that is at least half female — but the employees who are interviewing candidates have serious unconscious bias and end up rejecting those same diverse candidates. They didn’t implement best practices among their hiring managers or interviewers. Some companies have unconscious bias training, but that’s usually not nearly enough to make a dent in the problem. We see this more often than we’d like. ”

Wessel mentions a positive step organizations can take to drive more success when attempting to diversify their staff: Promote from within.

“Most businesses start tackling this problem by bringing in diverse and qualified candidates at the junior level,” Wessel says. “While that’s well-intentioned, I’ve found great success on my team by hiring diverse managers who can help foster an environment of inclusion. Management is what sets the tone for the team and I’ve found that junior-level candidates respond well to seeing themselves reflected in the senior team members of a company when they come in for an interview. Without that, you may be able to get junior members in the door, but it’s harder to retain them for the long term.”

Via B The Change : How to Increase Your Company’s Impact by Hiring for Deep Diversity

Business Leaders Must Create Conditions for Learning—Without Introducing Chaos

For decades, workplace diversity was treated as an issue of legal compliance. Our predominately white male hegemony, which felt threatened by women and minorities entering the workforce, grudgingly began dismantling the glass ceilings (and in many cases very concrete ceilings) fearing regulatory sanction.

Around the 1990s, diversity began to emerge as an issue of “sensitivity” or “tolerance,” with business leaders becoming as concerned with their reputations as they were with regulatory compliance.

Today, the issue has evolved into one of core business strategy, as customers develop more discerning tastes for the social defensibility of the companies from which they buy. And, while open racism, sexism, homophobia, and cissexism have by no means been defeated, the best companies across all sectors now understand that promoting diversity is critical to maintaining social license.

But for conscious companies, which aim to serve a higher social purpose and challenge the status quo, the bar is higher. For them, diversity is about more than social license. Promoting diversity has become a “ticket to play” for purely profit-seeking businesses. But social-purpose businesses must do more than just play: They must try to change the game.

Why Diversity is Indispensable for Social Impact

Our most critical social challenges are complex, structural, and systemic. There is no “silver bullet” solution, for example, to wealth inequality. This complexity means that we will never all the answers.

True commitment to social impact demands that we build our strategies around questions: striving to be “learning organizations” that search for new insights into the challenges and experimenting with different approaches. These are tough questions with complex answers. For example, the question at the heart of Whole Foods’ work, “How do we make fresh, healthy food more accessible to people throughout our community?” does not have a single answer; rather it serves as a rallying point for organizational learning and community engagement.

Authentically asking such questions requires a whole-systems perspective. Without it, even the most socially minded companies risk becoming “locked in” to a single perspective or settling for being socially defensible (“we are not contributing to the problem”) rather than socially impactful (“we actively work to solve the problem”).

Complexity is all about contradictions: Two beliefs about an issue might both be “true” but also in conflict. Learning is what happens when we find common ground in conflicting perspectives. The challenge of improving maternal health, for example, looks very different to an expectant mother in rural Ghana than it does to the CEO of a health care company in the capital city. Without all perspectives, you cannot see the whole system.

For conscious businesses, the kind of diversity that helps you build a learning organization — what we call “deep diversity” — is thus a fundamental criterion for impact. “Deep diversity” means more than gender and ethnic diversity, though these are crucial. It also includes diversity in social perspective: the variety of lenses through which different segments of society view our challenges.

Is the issue you care about one of class, sustainability, economics, information, gender, or power? Chances are, it’s a mix of all of these and more. Truly impactful conscious companies harness deep diversity to identify innovation opportunities, build trust with customers, avoid groupthink, and better understand what’s really valuable to those they want to help.

For example, the Ghana-based social enterprise Voto Mobile has strived to build a company culture that appreciates the diverse social perspectives relevant to its mission. Voto uses mobile technology to change who has power and voice in the development process, “making it easy for businesses, governments, and NGOs to share information and gather feedback through interactive SMS or voice calls in local languages — using mobile to instantly reach across distance, language, and literacy barriers.

Voto’s staff members have been carefully selected to represent the various viewpoints on that challenge: end users, paying customers, how technology is built and used, livelihood contexts of intended beneficiaries, and gender issues. Acknowledging that it will never have all the answers, Voto also relies on its clients to educate it on the context of their particular initiative.

Creating Conditions for Impact through Deep Diversity

There are thousands of how-to guides, tools, and articles on promoting gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace. Fundamentally, promoting “deep diversity” is no different, although it does call for an even greater reflection on the varied social perspectives that matter in your work.

Whether your mission concerns inequality, sustainability, poverty, or any other social issue, there will always be many ways to frame the challenge.

Conscious business leaders must ask themselves: What questions lie at the heart of our mission? Which different social and political lenses might people use to answer those questions?

If some of these make me uncomfortable, is that discomfort justified, or am I missing out on opportunities for learning? Once you understand the different ways the challenge can be viewed, you can begin to hire for diversity in social perspective.

Finally, the critical challenge for any leader looking to leverage diversity for impact is to create the conditions for learning without introducing chaos. You don’t want your organization to become a conflict zone in which nothing gets done.

This is where leadership comes in: Aleader’s task is to create an environment of learning through action, ensuring the tough questions are asked while you keep moving forward. In fact, leading business strategist Julian Birkinshaw has described business leadership as the promotion of emergence while keeping entropy at bay. For example, successful leaders create “collision spaces” in their organizations: meetings and spaces in which debate is encouraged but is also facilitated to ensure the focus stays on learning.

If we are to be authentic, the struggle to create a values-driven economy demands that we venture into socially and politically sensitive territory. Challenging the status quo will always be hard, but by leveraging “deep diversity,” conscious companies can continue to demonstrate that impact is possible, even in the toughest of circumstances.

Via The Guardian :Matt manages a team of people – he’s never spoken to any of them

Only 16% of people with autism are in full-time employment, but updated recruitment styles are enabling neurodiverse candidates to fulfil their ambitions

When Ryan Mattock, co-founder of startup CommissionCrowd, needed to recruit a web developer three years ago, he received an inquiry from a potential employee, Matt Skillings.

Their conversation, over email, led to Skillings being hired by Mattock. He is now the company’s chief development officer and leads a team of four. But Mattock and his colleagues have never spoken over the phone with Skillings, or met him in person.

Skillings was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 33, and when he first emailed Mattock he was in the position that many people with autism find themselves in – he had skills to offer but found the process of selling himself difficult.

“He knew he was a good web developer and had a great portfolio, but he told us he didn’t feel comfortable speaking on the phone, and he can’t go to meetings,” Mattock explains. “We decided to hire him and adapt how we communicated, using Skype messages at first and then Slack. Matt is incredible at his job. It was a real opportunity for us.”

Skillings has previously written about his career struggle in a blog post: “Essentially, it came down to becoming a van driver, postman, or milkman; all of which gave me the freedom to work alone,” he said. “These were all perfectly fine career choices, but my passion was in web development … I was stuck in a cycle of working in jobs that simply couldn’t fulfil my ambitions.”

Only 16% of people with autism are in full-time employment, according to the National Autistic Society (NAS). “In 2009 that statistic was 15%, meaning progress is happening extremely slowly,” says Emily Swiatek, an employment training consultant at the NAS. “However, we are seeing employer attitudes starting to improve.”

“Companies are realising that hiring autistic staff is not just about getting a government benefit or something similar,” says Oliver Thornton, an entrepreneur with autism. “They may get an employee who performs exceptionally well in their role.”

Thornton founded his California-based social enterprise, Coding Autism, which trains autistic people for jobs in the area’s tech scene, in 2016. He was frustrated with the paucity of opportunities available to people with a condition that he and two of his siblings have. “I grew up in an autistic household, so when I read that 80% of autistic people are either unemployed or underemployed in the US, it blew my mind. That just seemed unacceptable to me.”

Coding Autism offers both technical and soft skills training, as well as career counselling. It’s predicted the US will have 1m vacancies in tech by 2020, and Thornton says the flexibility and creativity of that work is suitable to people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

“It’s not finance, where it’s suit and tie, very formal and 9-5; it’s people wearing T-shirts and jeans and working on creative projects for long hours. If people on the autistic spectrum are really passionate about something, they can work on it for a long time.”

Thornton has been inspired by autism-hiring initiatives that companies such as SAP and Microsoft have been pioneering. SAP, for example, provides awareness training for all employees, a buddy system where an autistic employee is paired with another member of staff, and coaches to offer support.

Swiatek believes leaders should look at recruitment practices first and foremost if they want to encourage neurodiversity.

“Job descriptions are full of words that aren’t clear,” she says. “For example, saying you are looking for a ‘self-starter who constantly scans the IT landscape’ is, to someone who reads things quite literally, confusing. Does that mean you want me to be constantly scanning 24/7?”

Nicola Whiting, chief operating officer at security software firm Titania, was diagnosed with autism at 45. She says the firm has made changes to its recruitment processes, including rephrasing job ads, since management attended a conference on autism.

“We’ve taken out phrases like ‘must be good at team work’, because it might mean someone who can do every other aspect of the job doesn’t apply. Teamwork is important, but we can adapt, and there are other ways to indicate your company is about people and is supportive.”

The company has also introduced a practical assessment, rather than just interviewing candidates, and allows people to receive interview questions in advance, which reduces stress and anxiety.

But what of the potential for autistic people to be leaders? Thornton and Swiatek agree that if more heads of companies can be open about being autistic themselves, it could inspire the next generation. But how many autistic people get the chance to lead in the first place?

“Autistic people have the potential to be [business] leaders,” says Swiatek, “but they can be overlooked. They may well be incredibly strategic, but someone who perhaps has more people management skills might be promoted over them. They perhaps don’t fit that stereotype of what leadership looks like.”

But this could change. Mattock says the days when leaders had to command an office full of people are coming to an end, because of remote working. “Matt leads a team of four people now by communicating online. He’s a good team leader, he works hard and expects everyone else to. The technology allows his personality to shine through.”

Via Inc : Want to Run a Successful Business in Southeast Asia? Hire More Women

If only for the sake of profits, women should not be excluded from the process of imagining and creating new products.

In her book, Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley (Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2018), journalist Emily Chang explores how men came to dominate the tech industry and profiles some of the women fighting sexism and harassment. In this edited excerpt, Chang looks at some of the women-inclusive businesses and how this method of hiring has led to payoffs.

Silicon Valley has long celebrated failure, encouraging founders to aim big and fail fast, pick themselves up, and try again. In that spirit, there’s one big failure to add to the list: Silicon Valley has failed women, period, and it’s time for the industry to own it. At the current rate, with VCs celebrated for hiring their first (first!) female partners and companies ever so slowly achieving single-digit increases in the number of female engineers and managers, it will take us a generation or more to get to anywhere near fifty-fifty. That is unacceptable. Women not only represent half the population but drive 70 to 80 percent of consumer purchases. If only for the sake of profits, women should not be excluded from the process of imagining and creating new products.

There are a few founders who see the opportunity here. Everyone is looking for a competitive advantage, and some tech leaders have realized that there is an abundance of talent and valuable ideas in the populations that, for the last three decades, have been largely untapped. Looking at their new women-inclusive businesses and work- place cultures can give us some idea of the potential payoffs.

I ran into Dick Costolo in April 2016, 10 months after he had left Twitter, and he was nearly giddy, having just hired another female engineer at his new personal-fitness start-up, Chorus, the fourth company he has co-founded in two decades. From day one, Costolo focused obsessively on making sure he hired as many women as men, even if it took longer to find them. “Once you fall behind, if just two out of 20 engineers are women, it’s impossible to catch up,” Costolo told me. “Any one of these companies, the underlying disease is that it’s 90 percent men,” Costolo says. “Everything, literally everything, is reinforcing the problem.”

Jack Dorsey, who returned to Twitter as CEO when Costolo left, is also taking an innovative approach to improving the environment for women at his other company, Square. New female engineers joining the company are placed on teams that include other women rather than alone with a group of men. The hope is to engender camaraderie and networking and mitigate the “imposter syndrome” that women often experience when they are the only female in a room of male engineers. Still, with a limited number of female engineers, there is a trade-off to this strategy: Some teams will remain all male. It’s an experiment, one that Dorsey believes is worth trying. In the meantime, Square has developed a strong bench of female executives. “It’s not just creating a sense of belonging that’s important,” Dorsey told me, “but also making sure women contribute to decision making.”

And then there’s the most straightforward strategy, that having women in charge will naturally attract more women. Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, says the company’s gender balance is 50-50 and that this has happened organically perhaps as a result of simply having strong female role models at the top.

These founders are attempting to create products that will be used by everyone, no computer expertise required. Hiring only the stereotypical computer nerd that IBM and others were screening for in the late 1960s and early 1970s (those who “don’t like people” and “dislike activities involving close personal interaction”) would ensure disaster for these sorts of endeavors. Following James Damore’s broken logic from his Google memo and hiring mostly men because they supposedly systematize rather than empathize would be equally shortsighted. What these companies need is a tech-savvy workforce with a deep empathic understanding of people’s behaviors, interactions, and preferences. For new technologies like these to reach their potential, they simply must be created by teams with a diverse set of perspectives.