Archive for February 2010

Recruit Your Own Talent

February 27, 2010

It wasn’t long ago that most leaders had assistance booking their travel, typing their memos, and printing and coping their reports.  Now, with today’s technology, most leaders book their own travel on-line, use their PC to type their own memos, and have high-speed laser printers for printing their reports.  It’s time for leaders to use technology to do their own recruiting as well.

Today, just like in the days of having assistance typing memos, most leaders seek assistance recruiting their next hire – typically from HR.  These HR experts, while well intentioned, are working with some handicaps.  They typically don’t know exactly where the industry or profession-specific experts are to be found and if they find the superstars they typically aren’t given access because they lack the credentials to “enter the fold.”  If they do get access to an industry or professional group (on-line or in-person), the passive candidate superstar wants to talk to the industry expert to understand what might be alluring about the work being done in the department with the vacancy, not the HR person.  College athletic coaches understand this the best.  When they recruit superstars, they personally contact the recruit’s school, meet with the recruit, and pitch them and their family on joining their team.  College coaches do not rely on someone from the admissions office to recruit their talent.  You shouldn’t either.

There are many easy to use technological resources for leaders to recruit their own talent.  Aside from the common job boards, Craigslist, industry sites, and LinkedIn are often free, effective for reaching the passive job-seeking superstars, and easy to use.  HR Advantage will be hosting a webinar March 4th at 2:00 EST to demonstrate how to use LinkedIn to source and recruit superstars.  A follow-up session will be held on March 25th at 2:00 EST for a hands-on, step-by-step workshop where, live, we’ll walk an entrepreneur through establishing a presence/profile and help him begin trolling for talent right then and there.  Reply to this email to reserve a spot for the webinar or click here for more information.

Empower yourself with the tools to recruit your own talent and you’ll be even more successful.

Consider The Needs And Style Of People You’re Addressing

February 24, 2010

Whether you are a leader providing feedback to a direct report or a sales person addressing a prospect or client, think about the style and communication needs of the receiver of your communication.  People have very different needs and preferences in the way they process communication, and in their natural style of delivering it.

As an example, a gregarious extrovert wanting to spend time bonding by talking about the Olympics or last weeks’ current events, may frustrate a strong-willed task-focused individual who just wants to get down to business.

Too often we get caught up in the message we want to deliver and fail to recognize the needs of the receiver. As a result, we communicate in the way we would want to have someone speak to us when so often those very attributes can turn off a listener with a different style.

Helping your direct reports explore their own behavior style and recognizing the behavior style of others will allow them much greater successes in their interpersonal communication and relationships, as well.

Empower your direct reports to develop their Interpersonal Intelligence and watch the effectiveness of their communication improve.

Tip: Use Questions, Not Statements

February 24, 2010

Too often when we have a direct report come to us with a problem, we speak using statements when questions are often a much better choice.

When a direct report comes to you with an issue, solving it for them makes you the choke point for future problems and does little if anything to develop your direct report. Asking questions exercises their brain for growth and development while conveying confidence in their ability to solve the problem or issue at hand.  It gives you the opportunity to consider some options you may not have previously considered and in the long run should save you from future interruptions as their problem solving ability increases.

So, the next time a direct report brings a situation to you, try questions like these:

  • What have you done up to this point?
  • What has worked?
  • What has not worked?
  • What else have you considered?  Why?
  • Have you consulted anyone else about this?  What were their suggestions, or from whom might you be able to seek advise (aside from me)?
  • What’s the worse thing that could happen?  What can you do if that does happen?  What preventative measures could be implemented?

Of course, some problems deserve to be escaladed to you, but developing the problem solving skills of others assures that great minds can work together when the problem is that significant.

Empower your employees by asking questions and communicating confidence in their ability to solve the problem.

Define The Culture You Want, And Then Make It Happen

February 24, 2010

We recently went for a casual dinner out and despite walking in to The Longhorn restaurant worn out and weary, we left energized.

Within moments of being greeted by our server, Michelle, we were amazed, and couldn’t help but comment, “Wow, she doesn’t belong here – maybe an upscale restaurant if a server at all!”

She became more impressive as we dined, and we started looking around to see if this was a “Michelle-ism” or more.  We noticed THAT server who seemed to have the same poise, or THAT other server who was completely engaged with her table.  Now we realized the trend – it was the whole restaurant!

One of the managers now interacted with a table that experienced a near miss with a dropped bowl of soup.  As he joked with his guests, and assured their comfort and positive experience, we both said in unison, “That’s it – it’s the manager!”

Finally, we asked Michelle to send her manager over.  Believe it or not, a different manager appeared.  We explained our bizarre interest (and incredible gratitude) regarding our experience.  She reiterated everything Michelle told us.  They invest a great deal in the selection process (Michelle, a former marketing professional, went through 3 group interviews before being hired – she never had 3 interviews for any job before), then 3 weeks, 8 hours per day, 7 days per week training, followed by a night or two of serving (in an auditioned setting) to friends and family.  After 4 years, she still attends training on the foods as well as customer service and is expected to mentor others locally or help with store openings out of state.

This doesn’t happen by accident.  It started with a clear mission and set of values that permeated their selection process, training, leadership, and all other employment practices.  It may not happen by accident, but it can happen in any market, in any business, and it begins with you.

Empower your employees by establishing your culture on purpose, not by accident, and then lead by example by ensuring all your employment practices reflect your purpose.

Use Multiple Assessment Instruments When Evaluating Candidates

February 24, 2010

Most economists expect there to be much more hiring in 2010 – we certainly have seen an increase with our clients.  Assessment instruments have become more common for hiring managers evaluating new hire candidates.  We recommend hiring managers use multiple assessments to evaluate more than one dimension of a candidate’s skill set.

Whether you are using assessments focusing on behavioral styles (Myesr-Briggs, DISC), personal skills (Hartman Value Profile, DNA), or critical thinking (Watson-Glaser, Ravens) it is important to evaluate more than one aspect of a candidate’s work skill set.  We all have multiple sets of skills and rely on different skill sets for different aspects of our job.

Hiring managers should try to assess as many of these skill sets as possible and not rely on just one assessment type.  Hiring managers also should be cautious that no assessment should be the go/no go factor of the selection process, rather indicators of where to probe more fully in interviews and reference checks.

Empower your hiring managers with multiple assessment tools in evaluating their new hires and you’ll experience better hires and less turnover.

Provide Feedback Based On Observed Behaviors

February 24, 2010

Behaviors are observable actions we all demonstrate.  Some behaviors are more productive than others.  All behaviors leave those observing the behavior with an impression of us.  When providing feedback to your direct reports, site their behavior not your interpretation of the action.

Some examples:

  • Instead of “You are rude and inconsiderate,” say “I feel that when you rolled your eyes and interrupted Tim during our meeting, you appear rude and inconsiderate.”
  • Instead of “You need to be a better team player,” say “I’m concerned that when you said ‘we worked hard on that report’ though everyone but you stayed late to work on it, you give the impression of not being a team player.”
  • Instead of “Your clothes are unprofessional,” say “I’m afraid that when you wore that top that revealed your under garment, you looked unprofessional.”
  • Instead of “You don’t care about your job,” say “I’m concerned that when you showed up late for three meetings last week, you gave the impression you don’t care about your job.”
  • Instead of “You did a good job yesterday,” say “You did a good job preparing the summary report for our team meeting yesterday.”

Keeping feedback focused on the behavior not interpretations will make your feedback conversations more objective and less argumentative.

Be Clear About Your Needs Before You Begin Your Search

February 24, 2010

“I’ll know it when I see it” may work when you are looking at a restaurant menu, but rarely when you are looking to add exceptional talent to your team.

If you know your organizational needs, you can create what we refer to as an Accountability Matrix for the position.  This includes the 3-5 primary accountabilities, their relative priority, the percent of time expected to be associated with each accountability and the success factors which will determine up front, whether or not someone has been successful or not in the described position.

This planning allows you to focus your interviews on the key components of the job.  In the absences of this planning, you may be attracted to the person most likeable or the best “salesperson” interviewing for the position – which may be fine if you seek a salesperson but it may lead you down the very wrong path if those traits are detrimental to the position.

Empower your new hire for success by creating clarity around the position and a plan to select the individual most successful in that role.

Do A 360 Assessment Before Beginning Your Personal Development

February 24, 2010

So you are ready to put a personal development plan together for the year and you may have some great ideas you want to do for yourself, but how do you know what your direct reports need or want from you?

360 degree feedback is an ideal way to gather the information if the tool and the process used are well constructed.  Surveys using Lickert scales (i.e. “on a scale of 1-5,”) may be easy to find but may not yield the clarity and accuracy of results you desire.  Challenges include the ease of gaming an answer, the scores usually reflect very recent observations or impressions — not behavior traits demonstrated over long periods of time, rater bias (my 4 may not mean the same thing as your 4, or I may never give a 1 or a 5, you may never give below a 3), and more.

Surveys using comparative statements eliminate those challenges, but they are a little more difficult to find, tend to require a little more financial and time investment, and may yield results that are difficult to swallow. 360 leadership tools that use a semi-ipsative format challenge respondents to choose and rank their behavioral and motivational observations.  This unique approach limits common forms of respondent bias, such as attempting to skew the results in a particular direction or making the same range of choices for all questions. The result is a more accurate and honest assessment.

The good news is, once you have the feedback, understanding your development needs from the perspective of your direct reports can make creating and implementing your development plan a lot easier, and very meaningful.

Empower your direct reports by including their needs in your development plan to create an environment for success.

Take Advantage Of New Year’s Resolutions

February 24, 2010

Years ago, the first Sunday following New Year’s Day was the best day of the year to advertise in the newspaper for talent because even passive candidates looked in the paper.  All those people who made their new Year’s Resolutions about improving their lot in life, getting a job where they are truly appreciated, finding a more rewarding career looked in that first Sunday paper for job leads, even if they didn’t have their resume updated yet.

Well, those New Year’s Resolutions are still being made, but these folks probably are not looking in the paper.

Where do they look?  They look on LinkedIn, on-line posting boards like Craig’s List, industry specific job boards, or to their personal/professional network.

If you expect to be hiring in the first quarter, getting the word out through your network and industry groups right after New Year’s Day is very productive.  It can be something as simple as “During the first quarter, we expect to be hiring a new Sales Professional who is great at generating new leads in our industry.  I’m reaching out to you because you know me and I know you care about our success.  If you know of someone who might want to begin discussions about this opportunity, please have them contact me directly.”

Acquire “A” Players by taking advantage of passive candidates searching for new opportunities in the New Year.