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How to Prevent an Office Dispute From Sabotaging Your Security Clearance

Do you have annoying coworkers? A terrible boss? While you may be concerned your complicated workplace will one day make you fly off the handle and lose your job, if you have access to sensitive information (and most government workers do), then you should be concerned about more than a possible angry outburst. You should be concerned about your security clearance.

“Under the Federal Adjudicative Guidelines, workplace disputes typically fall under the personal conduct category known as Guideline “E,” notes Sean Bigley, a security clearance attorney at Bigley-Ranish LLC. “It’s a catch-all charge for any situation in which a clearance holder’s judgment, reliability, or similar traits are called into question. Because Guideline E is so broadly worded, it is also ripe for use in retaliation or other petty office spats. Unfortunately, this is a particularly common occurrence in the military, where commanders are granted unilateral discretion to suspend a subordinate’s clearance.”

What does that mean? It means it’s often relatively easy for a supervisor or coworker to call your conduct into question, particularly if you get involved in a dispute. And a personal vendetta may turn into a career killer if an incident report is filed...

How to Hire for Motivation

Early in my recruiting experience I placed a highly motivated and experienced candidate for a logistics position. He made a great first impression and was confident, affable and articulate. He had all the boxes checked, too. Unfortunately, he turned out to be the worst placement I ever made – he was more confident than competent. He started changing things before he knew what to change. He was fired a week after starting and I lost a big fee. However, I learned a number of lessons from this situation that I never repeated:

  • Interviewing personality has nothing to do with motivation.
  • Box-checking skills has nothing to do with competency or motivation.
  • Never hire anyone who is more motivated than competent. These are the people who change the wrong things too fast

Yet every competency model in the world starts with driven to excel, results-driven or highly motivated. And every hiring manager wants to hire motivated people. These are people who don’t need a lot of direction and get things done, on time and on budget. 

Interviewers assume a prepared, affable, assertive and extroverted person is highly motivated, and those who aren’t, aren’t. However, they’re wrong.

Ten years after...

Body Language You Should Borrow From Your Dog and Use On Your Boss

There are a lot of lessons we can learn from the animal kingdom, and how to negotiate may be the most important of them all.

Just like humans, animal species engage in constant communication and negotiation. Monkeys groom one another to cement bonding. Wolf packs share a fresh kill according to hierarchy. Each movement, posture, and vocalization in the among animals is part of a rich and deeply-ingrained social structure. Even observing how your pets play can offer a lesson in the importance of clear communication.

Telegraph your intentions

The play behavior of dogs offers one of the best examples of successful negotiation, according to Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“When animals play, they typically perform behavior patterns that are used in other contexts, such as predation, aggression, or reproduction,” says Bekoff, who specializes in the study of dogs, wolves, coyotes, and related animals. In order to negotiate play, animals must constantly reassess their relationships even as they are actively engaged with one another.

Bekoff calls this behavior “fine tuning on the run.” And he says there are a lot of parallels with human negotiations, in which one...

Please Do Not Tell Me That You Are Colorblind

"Here in North Carolina’s third-largest city, officers pulled over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a rate far out of proportion with their share of the local driving population. They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.   Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason. And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance." -- The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black, The New York Times, Oct. 25, 2015 

Racial discrimination is everywhere. So please don't tell me that you personally are "colorblind" or that the Black Lives Matter movement is "racist."

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' most recent survey on public-police contact (2011), there is a disparity in perceptions by drivers about whether police are pulling them over for legitimate reasons or not. Only 68 percent of black drivers felt this way, versus 74 percent of Hispanic drivers and 84 percent of white drivers. And black drivers were three times as likely as whites...

The Biggest Problem With Email? It’s Way Too Convenient

The average business user sent and received 122 business emails per day in 2015. This stat, perhaps more than any other, captures the reality of work in the 21st century—and this is a problem.

It’s increasingly clear that this incessant barrage of workplace messages is making us miserable. For one thing, it expands the scope of our jobs well beyond the standard 9-to-5 day. Now, whether at the dinner table or on vacation, digital communication enforces a constant tether to the office, impatiently demanding our energy and attention. And when we do try to buckle down and produce things that matter, the constant interruptions mute our ability to apply our craft at a high level.

Is this really the heralded future of work? Are we doomed to live out our office lives as human network routers, ceaselessly moving information in and out of our inboxes while vainly hoping this busyness will somehow alchemize into productivity?

It’s hard not to feel fatalistic. The ability to reach anyone quickly and easily is incredibly convenient; we cannot go back.

Or can we?

In order to understand the solution to our current email dilemma, it may be helpful to examine a...

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