Archive for March 2011

Ask For More Than One Example To Get A Handle On Reality

March 28, 2011

As you may know, behavior based interview and reference check questions are based on the premise that previous performance is a better predictor for future performance than anything else.  So behavior based questions ask for specific examples, not generalities, of things an individual has done in the past rather than how they “might” do things in the future.  If you ask people how they should behave, most people can provide the right answer, but have you always done what you should do?

When asking behavior based questions in interviews or reference checks, don’t be afraid to ask for more than one example.  The first time you ask the question, you might get an answer which includes a situation so unique that most anyone would respond appropriately.  However if you ask for one or two other examples you’ll get a better feel for how this person reacts to more common situations.  This is especially helpful when you’re probing an area of concern that may have arisen in assessments or previous interviews.
As an example, ask someone “please give me an example of a situation in which you were expected to comply with a policy with which you didn’t necessarily agree.”   The first example may be a great story and you may even have follow-up probing questions, but when its done, simply ask “do you have another example?”  While it may sound too forced, it actually plays out far more conversational than you may think.
Empower your interviewers and those doing reference checks to get to the heart of the matter by asking for multiple examples.

Use Assessments To Build Team Trust

March 20, 2011

Based on Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” trust is the basic foundation for a high performing team.  Teams cannot engage in healthy conflict, commit to each other, hold each other accountable, or achieve sustainable results with an absence of trust.

So how does a team build trust?  According to Lencioni, “Some of the most effective and lasting tools for building trust on a team are profiles of team members’ behavioral preferences and personality styles.  These help break down barriers by allowing people to better understand and empathize with one another.”

The psychometric instrument the team uses is not as important as going through the exercise.  Whether you use Myers-Briggs, PI, DISC, or another assessment tool, the value to the team is in having each team member share their results, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to leverage each team member’s strengths.  The shared vulnerability exhibited in the exercise creates a team bond and an inherent level of trust.

Empower your team to take an assessment, then share and discuss each other’s results to experience high performing success.

Make Sure Your Direct Reports Know The Results Of Their Efforts

March 11, 2011

In 1976 J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham developed a key model of work design called the Job Characteristics Model. It has since become the basis for many job enrichment strategies and still implemented today.  Hackman and Oldham contend job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity result from the application of their model.

The core dimensions of the model are: job variety (ability to perform multiple job functions), job identity (how the job affects the organization), job significance (how the job helps society), autonomy (how much independence the job has), and feedback (what happens as a result of the job).

As leaders we may not be able to influence our direct reports’ variety, identity, significance, and autonomy but we can easily impact the feedback dimension of their accomplishments.  Unfortunately, once the results of a job have been completed and delivered, we often forget about them and move on to the next task.  Communicating to your direct reports the outcomes of their efforts will go a long way towards helping them embrace their jobs and be more productive.  Celebrate the positive outcomes and learn from the not so positive results; in either event, recount what happened (in most cases the outcome is positive).

Empower yourself to share the end product of your team’s efforts and your team will be more productive and successful.

Assessments Alone Should Not Be A Hire/No Hire Determinant

March 6, 2011

Recent advances in behavior science have created many precise behavioral assessment instruments and the internet has made administering these instruments easy for hiring managers.  Given the perceived accuracy of the results, hiring managers often let one assessment alone determine whether or not to hire a candidate.  We recommend using a variety of assessment instruments to measure many different aspects of a candidate’s behavioral profile along with other screening approaches.  Using one assessment alone is to assume people are one dimensional without having various skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses not possibly evaluated through just one tool.

Regardless of the number of assessments and their validity, relying only on assessments to hire or not hire someone is committing leadership negligence.  Aside from compliance requirements (the US Department of Labor states assessments should not represent more than one-third of the hire/no hire decision and must be directly tied to success in the position), leaders must include other screening mechanisms with candidates.  Assessment results should generate more conversation with the candidates and/or references to verify how the individual performs in real life.  If a decision is made based solely on the assessment without follow-up, then the assessment has become a go/no-go decision point which is not only in direct violation of the EEOC guidelines but just isn’t fair to the candidate.

Empower your hiring managers by giving them sufficient tools and processes to make the right selection decisions for the right reasons.