Archive for September 2014

Beware Of The Anchoring Bias When Making A Hire

September 26, 2014

We all have biases, those unconscious inclinations, that affect our decisions.  These mental shortcuts allow us to get through our day without having to analyze every thought, but often times prevent us from making sound decisions.

Wikipedia defines the anchoring bias as the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first pieces of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.

We have seen hiring managers make poor hires when they let the anchoring bias affect hiring decisions.  One hiring manager we worked with, Bob, needed to fill a key role and was initially presented with many poor candidates.  After many lousy interviews, Bob met with an “okay” candidate – Steve.  Compared to the earlier candidates, Steve looked like a star.  Though Steve wasn’t what Bob had envisioned, when anchored with the other candidates, he stood out enough to be offered the job.

You know the rest of the story: Steve didn’t work out and Bob had to let him go.  Had Bob been aware of his tendency to rely on the first pieces of information, to be anchored, he probably wouldn’t have made the hire.

Empower yourself to understand your biases and you make more successful decisions.

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When The Job Outgrows The Employee, It’s Best To Replace The Employee

September 19, 2014

If your company is growing, the complexity of the jobs in your company is growing.  If your employees are not growing at a faster rate, the jobs will outgrow them.  This doesn’t mean those employees are bad.  It just means that as jobs become larger and more complex, some individuals won’t be able to keep up.

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is knowing that an employee cannot be successful in his or her current job and not doing anything about it.  This doesn’t necessarily mean letting them go.  It’s possible to find another “seat on the bus” for the individual where he or she might be able to succeed.  Though it makes you feel better, there is almost no return on investment in spending time trying to fix poor performers in a role that has outgrown them.

The worst scenario is when a leader knows the individual won’t succeed, but justifies keeping the person on, thinking it’s better to have someone, anyone, in the position than having no one at all.

Keeping under performers around means a leader is sending the message to everyone on the team that he or she either doesn’t recognize the problem, or is afraid to deal with it. Either way, it sends a message of weakness that every employee can see.

Empower yourself to move employees in jobs that have outgrown them and you’ll be more successful.

It’s Okay To Be A Passive Participant In Your Interviews

September 12, 2014

Most leaders admit to being poor interviewers.  Interviewing is a learned skill and is something hiring managers seldom do and typically have had little or no training.

Those leaders who conduct their own interviews often miss much of the candidate’s response (verbal and non-verbal) as they prepare for their next question or process the answer to a prior question.  Also, hiring managers tend to spend too much time talking and not enough listening.  We recommend hiring managers use an experienced interviewer to conduct interviews while they observe the candidate being interviewed.

The hiring manager learns much more watching and listening to the candidate when they are not leading the interview because they have the opportunity to use the critical thinking skills they’ve honed while processing the answers from candidates.  The leader may contribute occasionally but the majority of the interviewing should be done by someone else.  You’d be surprised how much more you are able to evaluate a candidate when all you have to do is observe them.

Empower yourself to have an experienced interviewer lead your interviews and you’ll make more successful hires.

Take Time To Sharpen The Saw

September 5, 2014

Habit #7 in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is called “Sharpen the Saw.” Covey describes a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. Cutting dulls the blade and the solution is to sharpen the saw; however, the woodcutter is too busy cutting to take time out to sharpen his saw and is stuck in an unproductive cycle.

Many leaders believe taking time off or going on vacations sharpens the saw; this is putting the saw down not necessarily improving yourself.  Sharpening the saw requires an activity that is targeted at self improvement.  Here are some saw sharpening activities we’ve seen:

  • Embark on an extensive exercise program
  • Take a class (cooking, economics, leadership, etc.)
  • Eat at least one healthy meal each day
  • Volunteer at church, Rotary, Lions or other industry committees
  • Meditate for ten minutes each day
  • Organize your work area
  • Read a literary classic

Let us know what have you done to sharpen your saw lately.  Empower yourself to take time for self improvement and you’ll be more successful cutting down your trees.