Archive for October 2013

Leverage Your Direct Reports’ Social Motivation This Month

October 28, 2013

In 1928, Dr. Eduard Spranger wrote the book “Types of Men” in which he introduced six common motivators we all have.  Of the six, Spranger argued everyone has two about which we are most passionate.  One of the six motivators is Social – our desire to make sure society is a better place and to give back.  People with this altruistic passion are particularly moved by all the public support for breast cancer awareness. It’s hard not to notice all the different signs of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; the pink is everywhere.  No doubt many of your direct reports are feeling the urge to give back and participate.

If your organization is compelled to participate in societal causes, let the passionate Social direct reports champion your efforts.  The energy and passion they create is contagious and the whole organization benefits.  However, as Spranger points out, not everybody has a passionate Social.  Don’t assume everyone will embrace the cause and respect those who choose to be less involved (there will be plenty of other non-Social initiatives they’ll be passionate about).

Empower your benevolent direct reports to champion your organization’s Social purposes, and your whole organization will succeed.

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Quality References Are Important When Considering Candidates

October 21, 2013

If you have ever applied for an advanced area of study (or know someone who has), you know submitting references is a major step in the application process.  References play a significant role in the school’s admittance decision.  The prepared applicants have been cultivating their references well before the time of application.  Much thought is given to choosing those references who will be both respected by the school and can best attest to the candidate’s abilities.

The quality of references submitted by job candidates says a lot about them too.  Having bosses or senior associates as references indicates a candidate who has left jobs on favorable conditions.  Having quality references might indicate how well a candidate maintains their network.  The best references are those who have had frequent and significant interactions with the candidate.  They have had opportunity to see the candidate’s many facets and worked with them through the rough patches.  Candidates with poor quality references may be a future headache.

Empower your hiring managers to evaluate the quality of their candidates’ references and they will make better hires.

Make Reference Checks A Part Of Your Selection Process

October 14, 2013

Past performance is always the best indication of how well a candidate will likely perform in a new role.  Interviewing and assessing candidates provides useful insight, but nothing beats knowing how they actually behaved in real life situations and talking to past associates can provide this insight.  This is why reference checks are important in the selection process.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer hiring managers are conducting reference checks today.  Maybe they are not getting meaningful feedback, maybe they are too busy, maybe they don’t think they matter.  For whatever reason, they are missing out on crucial information.

The best way to conduct an effective reference check is to begin the conversation with the reference explaining why their insights are important to you.  Here’s how we recommend setting up the conversation:

“James has made it very far in our selection process and we are seriously considering him for our company.  It is important for us to make sure we set him up for the best possible chance for success.  To do that, we need to know when we might need to provide support and when to get out of his way. I’d like to ask you a few questions to better understand how we can make James successful.”

Then ask the reference similar behavior-based questions asked in the interview.  You’ll be amazed how much you can learn about a candidate from the reference.

Empower your hiring managers to conduct reference checks and you’ll make successful hires.

One-On-One Meetings Are Important-Not Urgent

October 4, 2013

In 1994, Stephen Covey, along with A. Roger and Rebecca Merrill, introduced the four-quadrant importance and urgency matrix in their book First Things First.  In the book, Covey describes a framework for differentiating tasks that have long-term benefits (important-not urgent) from daily, less important tasks (important-urgent). Without a concerted focus, the important-not urgent tasks are often neglected until they become urgent-important.

Regular (weekly or biweekly) one-on-one meetings between leaders and their direct reports fall into the important-not urgent category but are often forsaken by leaders because they are too busy dealing with the important-urgent.  It’s in the one-on-one meetings that important-not urgent topics are discussed and dealt with before they become urgent.

During our leadership training sessions we ask leaders to raise their hand if they’d like weekly one-on-one meetings with their boss (or would have liked them when they had a boss).  Nearly everyone in the room raises their hand (who wouldn’t want regular non-pressured meetings with their boss?).  We then ask the leaders to lower their hand if they conduct these meetings for their direct reports. Sadly, most leaders do not lower their hand.  Why is it that direct reports are willing to invest in the important-not urgent but bosses are not?

Empower your leaders to conduct regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports, and you’ll experience less important-urgent issues and more success.