The art of managing tricky office relationships

You need to be doubly careful when it comes to handling workplace ties, since both the relationship with colleagues and your career is at stake. Here is how you can negotiate difficult office relationships that could otherwise prevent you from getting a good day’s work done.

Your ex-boss is now your junior
You are taken aback because your boss at your previous job—who you like and respect— has joined your current firm and is reporting to you. Make sure your priority lies in delivering a positive outcome for your employer. Recognise that your ex-boss has more experience than you in the industry, and he is likely to be comfortable in such a situation. If you are not comfortable, have your ex-boss assigned to a different team. However, if you want to work on the situation, discuss with your ex-boss the challenge of having to work with him in a new equation. Make sure you continue to respect him within your personal space and let your employer be aware of the common past. If you are the one reporting to somebody who worked under you before, display the maturity of a seasoned professional and help him succeed at his job.

Your best friend is incompetent
While you have been promoted, your close friend has been ignored. You have also been tasked to counsel him to improve his performance or be fired. Head out with your friend during office hours to a neutral location like a coffee shop. Share that you have an official agenda and that you care enough for the relationship to speak to him as a friend first. Help him work through what’s holding him back. Together, figure out the best options for him inside and outside the firm. Finally, close the conversation by sharing that the only official component of the conversation was about improving performance. If you are the under-performer, acknowledge your friend for the difficult task he has and leverage his knowledge to figure out your future.

Your spouse, working in the same organisation, has been promoted
You find yourself harbouring mixed feelings of pride and jealousy. Spend some time alone to decide whether you can treat it like a situation where a co-worker has been promoted and you haven’t. Recognise that your top priority is the personal equation that you share at home and not the workplace dynamic. If you find that the social and personal impact of the event is too challenging, consider switching to another firm. If you believe you can handle your emotions and the occasional snide remarks from colleagues, stick on and walk with your head held high. In either case, discuss your feelings and thoughts with your spouse and listen carefully to what your spouse is dealing with. If you are the one who has been promoted, be sensitive to what your partner may be going through, suspend your judgment and invest in protecting your personal space.

Your boss is bad for your career
If your boss is a poor performer and your team is unable to achieve its goals then your career gets stalled too. Choose to separate your emotions from what is good for your career and move on to a more successful boss. You can always continue to maintain a great personal rapport with your ex-boss. If your capability has been recognised by your boss’s superior, you can choose to stay back, but know that your boss will soon be fired and you will be asked to replace him. If you are the boss in this scenario, recognise the signs when high-performing and well-liked subordinates leave your team, and work to improve the situation.

You report to multiple bosses who hate each other
You are in a bind because each boss tries to get you to gossip about the other or hogs your time in a way that prevents you from fulfilling your other commitments. Congratulations! You are getting a first-hand experience of handling multiple conflicting stakeholders and this experience will hold you in good stead for the future. As for now, politely decline to be party to any negative conversations. In due course, your bosses will respect you for your integrity and for not talking behind their backs. Gradually learn to say ‘No’ to work that does not belong to you, so that you have time to do the work you were hired to do. If you are the manager carrying on a running battle with your peers, remember, in a situation like this, no one really wins.

This article is republished from ET Wealth and the original author is Devashish Chakravarty. Original article can be viewed here:

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Avoid These Productivity Drags

So, we received this email recently and decided to share it with our readers. Thanks to the email sender – you know who you are 🙂
Being productive isn’t easy, regardless of how badly you’d like to be and how hard you think you’re willing to work.  But increasing your output at work and in life is a much more attainable goal if you’re not sabotaging yourself with bad habits.
Here are 10 things you should stop doing right now:
1. Impulsive web browsing: Since most of us work with access to the internet, it’s easy to get side-tracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head.
That’s why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you’re not trying to get work done.
2. Moral licensing: Whether it’s a new diet, workout routine, or work schedule, one of the most difficult things about forming a new habit is the urge to cheat as a reward for sticking to a routine for a while. This idea that we “deserve” to splurge on fancy meal after being thrifty for a week is called “moral licensing,” and it undermines a lot of people’s plans for self-improvement Instead, try making your goal part of your identity, such that you think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who is working against their own will to do something new.
3. Putting off your most important work until later in the day: People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their more difficult work for later. This is a bad idea, and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all.
As researchers have found, people have a limited amount of willpower that decreases throughout the day. That being the case, it’s best to get your hardest, most important tasks done at the beginning of the day.
4. Taking many meetings: Nothing disrupts the flow of productivity like an unnecessary meeting. And with tools like email, instant messenger, and video chat at your fingertips, it’s best to only use meetings for introductions and serious discussions that can only be held in person.
BlueGrace Logistics founder Bobby Harris recommends that people don’t accept a meeting unless the person who requested it has put forth a clear agenda and stated exactly how much time they will need. And even then, Harris recommends giving the person half of the time they initially requested.
5. Multi-tasking: While many people believe they are great at doing two things at once, scientific research has found that just 2% of the population is capable of effectively multi-tasking.
For the rest of us, multi-tasking is a bad habit that decreases our attention spans and makes us less productive in the long run.
6. Hitting the snooze button: It might feel like pressing the snooze button in the morning gives you a little bit of extra rest to start your day, but the truth is that it does more harm than good.
That’s because when you first wake up, your endocrine system begins to release alertness hormones to get you ready for the day. By going back to sleep, you’re slowing down this process. Plus, nine minutes doesn’t give your body time to get the restorative, deep sleep it needs.
7. Failing to prioritize: It’s only natural for people to hedge against failure by keeping their options open and trying to pursue a bunch of different goals simultaneously. Take, for instance, the person who is five years into a career in marketing, but preparing themself for law school just in case. Unfortunately, this sort of wavering can be extremely unproductive.
Warren Buffett has the perfect antidote. Seeing that his personal pilot was not accomplishing his life goals, Buffett asked him to make a list of 25 things he wanted to get done before he died. But rather than taking little steps toward completing every one of them, Buffett advised the pilot to pick five things he thought were most important and ignore the rest.
8. Over-planning: Many ambitious and organized people try to maximize their productivity by meticulously planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, and a sick child or unexpected assignment can throw a wrench into their entire day.
Instead, you might want to try planning just four or five hours of real work each day , that way you ‘ re able to be flexible later on.
9. Under-planning: With that being said, you should take time to strategize before attempting to achieve any long-term goal. Trying to come up with the endgame of a project you’re doing midway through the process can be extremely frustrating and waste a huge amount of time.
Harvard lecturer Dr. Robert Pozen recommends that you first determine what you want your final outcome to be, then lay out a series of steps for yourself. Once you’re halfway through, you can review your work to make sure you’re on track and adjust accordingly.
10. Keeping your phone next to your bed: The LED screens of our smartphones, tablets, and laptops give off what is called blue light, which studies have shown can damage vision and suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle.
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The turning tide – startups gaining currency in the talent market

Source: The Economic Times – November 11, 2014

While 39% organisations lost top talent to start-ups in just the past 6 months, overall, 45 per cent of companies surveyed agreed that they had lost their choicest & top talent to start-ups in the past revealed a recent study.
Start-up Craze – The Entrepreneurial Rush

Many of the best and brightest of India Inc’s talent are bailing out of their high-paying, prestigious jobs with big corporates to join start-ups or set up their own business. The IT/Telecom sector has witnessed the maximum (40%) talent movement to startups followed by ITeS, Retail and the Manufacturing & Engineering sectors.

The Game of Power

Freedom to innovate and positions/designations are pointed out as the key factors luring top talent to startups, by nearly 60 per cent of the respondents to the survey.

The attraction of having a position of power and of being in a leadership role is the maximum at the middle level. 65 per cent organisations said that maximum talent movement is at the middle level and 55 per cent of middle level managers are attracted by the designations offered, revealed. The experience range of these high-value job-hoppers lies between 5-10 years, said 48 per cent of the survey. The fact that middle level employees are getting to exercise leadership positions at start-ups is the biggest factor driving them to leave reputed & established organisations.

“A major reason for this exodus of talent is that in a big company mid-managers can take almost 10-15 years to reach leadership positions, while start-ups offer them a head start at the power and opportunities that leadership provide at a much earlier stage in their careers.” says Vivek Madhukar, COO,

TimesJobs’ survey reveal Over 60 per cent candidates with 2-5 years experience move to startups to explore their creative side and about 67 per cent of the candidates with 5-10 years experience join startups for better positions and designations.

Playing to their Strengths

“While money may not be the biggest attraction in start-up organisations, they are cashing in on the concept of the ‘new work world’, which offers freedom to innovate, flexibility and leadership positions to lure Gen Y workforce out of their big corporate jobs. The fact that Gen Y is restless and seeks instant gratification, interesting work and quick results – start-ups are the place where they are getting what they want.” explained Vivek Madhukar, COO,

According to Sunil Goel, MD GlobalHunt, “Startups have minimum liabilities and so they experiment and innovate with one specific area. Top talent have risk abilities and willingness to work all around the functions, hence they select to join the startups.” As far as designations are concerned, he added, that while in established companies there is a huge pool of people and so the hierarchy has to be maintained to make sure that new entrants are clear about their role, work areas and KRAs, in startups the resource pool is limited. It doesn’t matter what designation it should be called.

Besides, professionals today have become more optimistic about the future of the country, its economy and the markets. Hence, they are no more risk-averse. Also, with many startup success stories doing the rounds and world-figures espousing the concept of entrepreneurship, the workforce is getting lured, highlighted Aditya Narayan Mishra, president Staffing, director Marketing, Randstad India.

Joining a Start-up

Advantages · Opportunity to develop multiple skills, as one is expected to work take on multiple roles. · Higher growth opportunity and faster learning curve with first-hand experience of working with top management. · One grows with the organization, hence, higher opportunity to earn better remuneration, added perks and profit sharing. · More accommodating towards work flexibility options. · More freedom to think out of the box and ample opportunities to innovate.

Disadvantages · Less organised work culture with the company at an evolution stage, hence, systems and processes not yet refined, leading to confusion and trouble in communication, especially for new joiners who are not yet accustomed to the corporate atmosphere. · Employees are not able to leverage the brand equity if it does not do well in the long run.

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10 easy tips for conflict resolution


We received these tips in an email and are not sure of the source. However, the tips are sensible and easy to follow and definitely worth sharing with you.

One of the most common and frustrating impediments to  productivity is conflict between employees. Unresolved conflict can strain relationships, create tension and negativity, and dampen morale. Whether engaged in a heated debate, a disagreement, or an outright feud, take a strategic approach to resolving the problem. You’ll be most effective if you avoid making these common mistakes.
1. Don’t make assumptions about the situation or the other person’s perceptions, motivations, or reactions. You’ll get a much clearer and more accurate picture by asking the other person directly.
2. Don’t take it personally – it rarely is!
3. Don’t look for blame. Instead, try to identify cause.
4. Don’t avoid the problem. It’ll only get worse, breed resentment, and resurface at a later date. You’ve simply got to deal directly with the issue at hand.
5. Don’t attack the other person’s character. That’s just playing dirty. It will not help you work things out and it will almost certainly have a lasting, negative impact.
6. Don’t gossip about the problem or about the other person involved. It’s unprofessional and will only make matters worse.
7. Don’t bring it up in public. This is a private matter to be resolved between you and the other party.
8. Don’t bring it up when there’s not enough time to address it. Instead, leave adequate time for a thorough discussion – or introduce the issue and schedule a time to resume talks in the immediate future.
9. Don’t bring it up when you’re angry, stressed, or feeling ill.That’s a disservice to you and the other person involved. Wait until you’re calm.
10. Don’t address the situation in an email. Email leaves far too much room for misinterpretation. While we’re on the subject, don’t copy others on a personal matter. This will almost certainly make the other party feel defensive, angry, or humiliated. It won’t, however, help resolve the problem.
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Fight, flight or fess up? How to deal with making a mistake at work.

When Ariana Gupta (name changed), a star performer with an financial services firm, made a goof-up in her research report, she was initially tempted to run away and hide. Instead, she recovered by communicating the mistake and charting out the best possible solutions to move ahead.Even the best performers make mistakes, but the best way to handle them is to own up, find the solution and take it as a lesson.

Admit the Mistake

“It takes courage to admit the mistake. As soon as you identify and admit the mistake, you can get on with finding solutions and rectifying the error. If needed, inform seniors and take their inputs. Hiding or covering it will only make the consequence irresolvable,” says KA Narayan, president, HR, RaymondBSE . “Maintain a positive attitude, apologise to those affected… There should be a well-defined plan with timelines and exact action items,” adds Anupama Beri, head, HR, Snapdeal.

Take Responsibility

A person who can admit to mistakes and own the responsibility is more likely to garner respect than one who is not ready to accept it. “Admitting your mistake and apologising for it can be a challenge as one risks ‘losing face’. But that is the best way to earn your colleagues’ trust. Don’t look for scapegoats,” says Narayan. Agrees Beri: “Do not play the blame game. If it is your mess then you need to clean it up.”

Get to the Bottom

Do a root cause analysis of any error. “By correcting or eliminating the cause, the problem can be prevented from recurring. We need to introspect why the problem occurred, and then continue to ask why it happened, until we reach the root cause,” says Narayan. Adds Beri: “Identify if the mistake can happen again and take corrective action.”

Inform Stakeholders

If the goof-up is with external stakeholders, inform them proactively before they discover it. The stakeholder must be told about the mistake, how it happened and what steps are being taken to rectify it. “You need to reiterate your capabilities and reassure the external party that it won’t happen again,” adds Narayan.

Move On

Dwelling on the past doesn’t help at all. “It involves endless self-recrimination and often self-pity, neither of which helps resolve the situation,” says Beri. Also, mistakes may result from erroneous beliefs or outdated assumptions. “Acting without data but on assumptions and beliefs can be dangerous. So, once the goof-up happens, check back on these,” says Narayan.

(This article is taken from The Economic Times, Mumbai edition of May 14th, 2013 and edited for brevity)

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Cost-to-company (CTC)? Income Tax? Taxable Income?? (Video)


So, we were waiting for a client at a coffee shop and happened to overhear a young man at the next table speaking with his friends regarding his first job. Naturally, being newly employed, he was excited about the work and the workplace. However, he was complaining about how the salary structure was confusing and how he did not completely understand the concept of CTC.

We have gone through this conversation several times over the years and have found it tough to explain things clearly to anyone in the first try. So, we looked around and dug a little bit and stumbled upon this neat video by The Family Computer Club .

Now, if only we had asked the young man for his email id!

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Quick Tips – Ace Your Job Interview

interviewAs a jobseeker, you put in countless hours cutting, pruning and refining your CV. You also spend an equal amount of time hunting down openings, networking and applying for jobs. And finally, your effort bears fruit in the form of that elusive job interview. It is important to know that everything leading up to the interview is simply the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Unless you manage to rock the personal interview(s), your efforts will come to naught.

But, you can stop fretting over it. We have listed 5 quick tips which will help you set the stage for a rocking interview. Most of these might be obvious but do let us know if they work for you.

Quick tip  # 1
Plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the interview.
This will give you extra time just in case you run into traffic or cannot find the interview location. If neither of these things happen, it still looks great to the employer that you’ve made the extra initiative to arrive early.

Quick tip # 2
Dress right. Casual doesn’t cut it.
Pick out a professional outfit, no matter where you have applied. If you have been previously told it is a “casual environment” and are searching through jeans – think again. There will be several people interviewing with you. If one person out of the four dress up, they will be the most memorable. Be that person!

Quick tip # 3
Make extra efforts during the interview.
Bring a notebook with your CV and extra sheets of paper with you to lay out in front of you while you are in the interview. Take notes while they are telling you about benefits, hours and the basics of the company.

Quick tip # 4
Body language is important.
Keep eye contact. The employer needs to know he’s engaged you. Control your hand movements because excessive gesturing distract from what you are saying and dilute your impact.

Quick tip # 5
Be prepared with questions.
At the end of the interview, they might ask you, “Do you have any questions?” Always have questions prepared. Asking questions at the end of the interview shows the employer your interest in the company and the job itself.

Do you have any more quick, common sense tips which can help smoothen the road during an interview?

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Infographic: The Real Cost of a Bad Hire

Infographic: The Real Cost of a Bad Hire

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Dear Failure, Happy Teacher’s Day!

Why Failure Is Good for Success

The sweetest victory is the one that’s most difficult. The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to fight with everything you’ve got, to be willing to leave everything out there on the battlefield—without knowing, until that do-or-die moment, if your heroic effort will be enough.

Society doesn’t reward defeat, and you won’t find many failures documented in history books. The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. Such is the case with Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, which purportedly took him 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype. “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Unlike Edison, many of us avoid the prospect of failure. In fact, we’re so focused on not failing that we don’t aim for success, settling instead for a life of mediocrity. When we do make missteps, we gloss over them, selectively editing out the miscalculations or mistakes in our life’s résumé.

“Failure is not an option,” NASA flight controller Jerry C. Bostick reportedly stated during the mission to bring the damaged Apollo 13 back to Earth, and that phrase has been etched into the collective memory ever since.

To many in our success-driven society, failure isn’t just considered a non-option—it’s deemed a deficiency, says Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. “Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list,” Schulz says. “It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.”

Life’s Greatest Teacher

When we take a closer look at the great thinkers throughout history, a willingness to take on failure isn’t a new or extraordinary thought at all. From the likes of Augustine, Darwin and Freud to the business mavericks and sports legends of today, failure is as powerful a tool as any in reaching great success.

“Failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers [but] sadly, most people, and particularly conservative corporate cultures, don’t want to go there,” says Ralph Heath, managing partner of Synergy Leadership Group and author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big. “Instead they choose to play it safe, to fly below the radar, repeating the same safe choices over and over again. They operate under the belief that if they make no waves, they attract no attention; no one will yell at them for failing because they generally never attempt anything great at which they could possibly fail (or succeed).”

However, in today’s post-recession economy, some employers are no longer shying away from failure—they’re embracing it. According to a recent article in BusinessWeek, many companies are deliberately seeking out those with track records reflecting both failure and success, believing that those who have been in the trenches, survived battle and come out on the other side have irreplaceable experience and perseverance. They’re veterans of failure.

The prevailing school of thought in progressive companies—such as Intuit, General Electric, Corning and Virgin Atlantic—is that great success depends on great risk, and failure is simply a common byproduct. Executives of such organizations don’t mourn their mistakes but instead parlay them into future gains.

“The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear,’ ” says Heath. “To do their work well, to be successful and to keep their companies competitive, leaders and workers on the front lines need to stick their necks out a mile every day. They have to deliver risky, edgy, breakthrough ideas, plans, presentations, advice, technology, products, leadership, bills and more. And they have to deliver all this fearlessly—without any fear whatsoever of failure, rejection or punishment.”

Reaching Your Potential

The same holds true for personal quests, whether in overcoming some specific challenge or reaching your full potential in all aspects of life. To achieve your personal best, to reach unparalleled heights, to make the impossible possible, you can’t fear failure, you must think big, and you have to push yourself.

When we think of people with this mindset, we imagine the daredevils, the pioneers, the inventors, the explorers: They embrace failure as a necessary step to unprecedented success.

But you don’t have to walk a tightrope, climb Mount Everest or cure polio to employ this mindset in your own life. When the rewards of success are great, embracing possible failure is key to taking on a variety of challenges, whether you’re reinventing yourself by starting a new business or allowing yourself to trust another person to build a deeper relationship.

“To achieve any worthy goal, you must take risks,” says writer and speaker John C. Maxwell. In his book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success, he points to the example of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who set several records and achieved many firsts in her lifetime, including being the first female pilot to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean. Although her final flight proved fateful, Maxwell believes she knew the risk—and that the potential reward was worth it. “[Earhart’s] advice when it came to risk was simple and direct: ‘Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.’ ”

Of course, the risks you take should be calculated; you shouldn’t fly blindly into the night and simply hope for the best. Achieving the goal or at least waging a heroic effort requires preparation, practice and some awareness of your skills and talents.

Easing Into a Fearless Mindset

“One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone,” Heath says. Although you might fail incredibly, you might succeed incredibly—and that’s why incredible risk and courage are requisite. Either way, you’ll learn more than ever about your strengths, talents and resolve, and you’ll strengthen your will for the next challenge.

If this sounds like dangerous territory, it can be. But there are ways to ease into this fearless mindset. The first is to consciously maintain a positive attitude so that, no matter what you encounter, you’ll be able to see the lessons of the experience and continue to push forward.

“It’s true that not everyone is positive by nature,” says Maxwell, who cites his father as someone who would describe himself as a negative person by nature. “Here’s how my dad changed his attitude. First he made a choice: He continually chooses to have a positive attitude. Second, he’s continually reading and listening to materials that bolster that attitude. For example, he’s read The Power of Positive Thinking many times. I didn’t get it at first, so once I asked him why. His response: ‘Son, I need to keep filling the tank so I can stay positive.’ ”

Heath recommends studying the failures and subsequent reactions of successful people and, within a business context, repeating such histories for others. “Reward them and applaud their efforts in front of the entire organization so everyone understands it is OK to fail. So employees say to themselves, ‘I see that Bill, the vice president of widgets, who the president adores, failed, and he is not only back at work, but he is driving a hot new sports car. I can fail and come to work the next day. Bill is proof of it.’ ”

Finally, Heath stays motivated by the thought that, “if I become complacent and don’t take risks, someone will notice what I am doing and improve upon my efforts over time, and put me out of work. You’ve got to keep finding better ways to run your life, or someone will take what you’ve accomplished, improve upon it, and be very pleased with the results. Keep moving forward or die.”

Credits: This article appears in SUCCESS magazine and can be viewed on their website here ]

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Startup Hiring – Mistakes You Might Tend To make

For startups, hiring remains a perennial problem area. If you are an entrepreneur and are looking to hire for your startup, there are some mistakes which you need to avoid. The Power of Ideas website from Economic Times has listed the top 10 mistakes in startup hiring. Reproducing the list below:

  1. Hiring too many employees because of miscalculated revenues & underestimated cost of hiring. Rather start with just one or two and then add as your needs increase.
  2. Taking on board someone just because you known them —family, friends, wife. They’d expect different treatment
  3. Hiring a jack-of-all-trades instead of specialists for a particular job. Startups need specialists in specific roles
  4. Not having clarity on what you are hiring for. Startups should clearly define roles for new hires.
  5. Not knowing if you are looking for a follower or a leader. Every business needs a mix of both
  6. Giving someone equity just because you cannot pay a hefty salary. Then you get a partner not an employee
  7. Not taking reference checks seriously. Do not just go by the candidate’s resume
  8. Hiring just to help someone out.
  9. Hiring to create bench strength. Big companies can afford that. You need to create a high performance team
  10. Emphasizing too much on cost per hire rather than on quality of hire.

If you have any more to add to this list, please share in the comments.

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