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Daily Dairy from Contented Cows

By Erin Osterhaus, Software Advice.

It’s hard to evaluate a third-party recruiter in advance. The ultimate test, of course, is whether the recruiter brings you high-quality candidates. But you won”t know this until you’ve worked with that recruiter for months. You”ll certainly want to choose a recruiter who has experience hiring in your industry for the type of talent you need. But these basics just scratch the surface. To dig deeper, I asked three recruiting experts for some clever questions to ask a prospective recruiter. The experts:

The familiar text tone from my iPhone heralded the message from my nearly 25-year-old daughter this morning: “I am officially someone”s manager now. Ahhh!”

A recent Huffington Post report highlighted a policy change at CVS Caremark, whereby workers who use the company’s health insurance program will be strongly encouraged, ‘er coerced to get a health assessment (height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, et. al.) AND to make the results available to a firm that provides benefits support to their employer. According to the HuffPo piece, workers who choose not to participate will be fined $600 for the privilege of keeping their health data to themselves.

One needn’t look far this week to hear the cries of anguish, and claims that Yahoo boss, Marissa Mayer is taking the company and its workers back to the stone age with her decision that, in the near future, Yahoo staffers need to get back to work, literally.

With full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) now within sight, every organization with a payroll and a modicum of good sense is getting serious about determining their strategy and tactics with respect to the act.

Do you remember your first job? If you”re like roughly half of us in today”s workforce (myself included), you were most likely in your teens, and the job was part-time. And if you”re like me, while you earned a little, you learned a lot.

Last week, in his coming out confession before Oprah Winfrey and a yawning world, cyclist Lance Armstrong implied that, when it occurred, he didn’t feel that his persistent cheating in cycling competitions was wrong because everyone else was doing it.

This week I’m recording an interview with Kathy Tuberville, a University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business instructor who has elected to use our book, Rebooting Leadership in an upper level undergrad course on leadership. As a precursor to our discussion, she posed two questions for me to address in our interview. I did my best to answer them in a fashion that I thought would be most useful to her students, and have shared my thoughts below. To the degree that you have new or young leaders in your organization, or perhaps you are one yourself, you/they may find this of interest:

Have you noticed lately the regularity with which business and other leaders tend to begin a sentence with the word, “sure”, even if it’s not remotely related to what’s being asked or discussed? I don’t know if it’s a tic, the latest buzzword, or an unconscious effort to reassure themselves or perhaps others. At the very same time, we continue to hear a chorus from those same individuals that sounds a little like this… “We will resume investing and hiring to grow our businesses when there is greater certainty about the future.”

Earlier this year, Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based quick service restaurant chain, became the unwitting object of a firestorm following President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s direct answer to an interviewer’s question about his views on marriage. The interview was in the context of the ongoing national debate on same-sex marriage, spurred perhaps by contributions reportedly made by the Cathy family foundation, Winshape ( to some not especially LGBT-friendly entities.

Earlier this week, alongside 199 of the brightest, most talented people in the healthcare space, I attended the 2012 Forbes Healthcare Summit. Held at the The Allen Room at Jazz @ Lincoln Center in New York, the conversation and content were as spectacular as the venue. Hats off to Steve Forbes for hosting an event that lived up to its billing, and for allowing me to attend. Given that we frequently coach and train managers and executives from hospitals, big pharma, device manufacturers, and eldercare, I attended the event in an effort to stay current on the trends, opportunities and challenges in their world.

Having recently spent two hours on a plane seated next to a fellow who was clearly too ill to be in confined space with others, I was reminded that the time of year when germ transmission and attendant illness ramps up is again upon us. For many of us, between sneezes, our attention turns to discussion of worker attendance, absenteeism, and presenteeism.

A couple weeks ago, a good friend asked my opinion on the expected failure of Hostess Brands Inc., the 85 year-old maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, Hostess CupCakes, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs. His question prompted a flashback to regular visits my college buddies and I made decades ago to the 24-hour lunch counter at the Hostess bakery in South Miami after some, ah-hem… late night studies.

Once again, the sports world is abuzz over the treatment of an injured player who, at least so far, has been kept on the bench despite being cleared to play. The player in this case is Alex Smith, quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers. Since being cleared to return to play following a concussion injury, Smith has been kept on the bench by 49’ers coach, Jim Harbaugh, in favor of Colin Kaepernick, a rising star who has performed well in game situations. Nevertheless, tensions are rising.

One thing that hasn’t changed much in the last few years is the popularity of the topic of change.  The popularity and relevance of the topic has remained strong because a leader’s ability to lead people through change can often be a make-or-break contribution to a team, business unit, or entire organization.

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