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Benefit of Using Structured Interviews

Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews

Your interviews are probably more unstructured than they should be.

Too many recruiters and hiring managers ask interview questions that reflect their biases, increasing the likelihood that they don’t fairly compare candidates.  Even worse, many recruiters just “wing it” when conducting interviews because they claim that’s the best way to, “get a real feel for the candidate.” However, when discussing why Google turned to structured interviews, Google’s VP of People Operations Laszlo Bock made clear his thoughts on “winging it,” stating, “Typical, unstructured job interviews were pretty bad at predicting how someone would perform once hired.”

You may not be so unstructured as to totally wing it in an interview, but think of all the small talk you probably make over the course of interviewing someone. An unstructured interview might lead you into a 10-minute conversation about a shared interest with the candidate, like fishing or the movie you both saw recently, instead of working toward determining the viability of the candidate in fulfilling the duties of the vacant position.

According to internationally known talent management thought leader Dr. John Sullivan, “The selection and hiring of people is fraught with bias and subjectivity… Recruiters need to do everything they can to make objective and unbiased decisions – even though perfect objectivity is never going to be possible.”

Biases prevent employers from hiring people who actually fit the job. Allowing your biases to influence your hiring decision can result in hiring a bunch of people you just, well, like. Structured interviews help keep you from basing your hiring decision on how you “feel” about a candidate, or just because you have something in common with a candidate. It doesn’t matter that you both like fishing or both cried when you saw the movie “Lion.” A structured interview lets you rely on empirical data that you collect from each interview and helps reduce unhelpful biases.

Dr. Sullivan points out that “structured interviews reduce bias by focusing on relevant, job-specific factors and past performance rather than on personal characteristics. Questions focusing on what you expect for accomplishments and on evidence of past performance will reduce bias.” One common example is what psychologists call confirmation bias: we judge the candidate in the first five minutes (or maybe 30 seconds), and spend the rest of the interview selectively hearing only what confirms our preconceived judgement.

A structured interview format is one in which all candidates (no cheating–this means ALL) receive the same questions in the same order, and are evaluated using the same metrics.

Think of it as a science, not an art. You need clear criteria with which you’ll assess each candidate’s responses. Start by identifying or reviewing the competencies of the particular job. What is actually required to succeed in this role? Base your metrics entirely on this question. Be wary of traditional metrics like GPA and school attended.

Dr. Sullivan encourages recruiters to “make sure that your questions are not aimed at bringing out a bias of some sort.  Keep them job-specific and relevant to the work you want the candidate to do.”

Use a rubric that helps interviewers assess each response that candidates give. In addition to avoiding the unstructured whims and common biases, the rubric helps avoid the impact of your team’s varying moods. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can rely on the structured interview to function the same way every time. See? A science.

An additional benefit of using structured interviews is that they are also significantly more defensible in legal situations, largely because they provide more detailed, objective hiring criteria.

A structured interview doesn’t have to be dry or disengaging.

Your hiring team may resist a structured interview, claiming they are boring or overly rigid. These tips can help to get the team on board.

  1. Most importantly, the candidate should have a positive experience during a structured interview. In fact, you will decrease the likelihood that candidates walk away feeling judged unfairly. In the opposite scenario, candidates who don’t seem to relate to their interviewers on a personal level (because they don’t like fishing, for example) will feel disengaged and less impressed with your organization.
  2. If you want the hiring team’s buy-in, you need to involve them from the beginning. Prepare them for the change by explaining the reasoning and science behind structured interviews. Invite them to help create the interview questions. Provide them with the job criteria and prompt them with, “What would be a good question that would allow a candidate to demonstrate that they can perform this function?”
  3. Remind them that the point of the exercise is not in asking cool questions, but in hearing how the candidate answers. It might seem fun to ask someone what they did over the weekend or which famous actor they most resemble, but remind your team that this is not the best way to find a candidate with the right skills for the job.
  4. The hard part is making sure the hiring team sticks to the questions. You might have a rogue interviewer who resists the questions and continues to go off on tangents with the candidate. Show this person the hiring rubric you’ve created with the team, and demonstrate how those unstructured questions cannot be evaluated within the rubric, and thus bring subjectivity into the process.
  5. Here are a couple good interview questions from Google’s Laszlo Bock:
    • Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team. (Follow-ups: What was your primary goal and why? How did your teammates respond? Moving forward, what’s your plan?)
    • Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with someone (can be a coworker, classmate, client). What made this person difficult to work with for you?

While there is no one way of ensuring your interview process is completely free of bias, determining a universal set of criteria, based on job functions, can help minimize the impact of preconceived notions.

To learn more about how to hire top talent, check out Achievers’ blog post on harnessing culture as a recruitment tool.

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About the Author
Anna Peters
Anna is the Content Manager for College Recruiter, which believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. College Recruiter features thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and other content as well as 300,000 internship and entry-level postings for open jobs. Anna and her team of writers produce content for talent acquisition professionals, as well as entry-level job seekers. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

 

 

boomerang employees

3 benefits of boomerang employees

“Boomerang” employees are workers who leave an organization and then come back a few months (or even years) later. Depending on their reasons for leaving and what they’ve been doing in the meantime, these returning employees can bring major benefits to your company. Here are three big benefits to re-hiring employees, and a few cautionary notes:

  1. Improved morale

Talented employees are constantly being recruited and headhunted by your competitors, and it can be painful to watch these workers jump ship for a more tempting situation. When they return, it sends the validating message that your organization is actually the best thing going right now. According to Winston Binch, chief digital officer and partner at Deutsch LA, “Our boomerangs prove to us all that we’re on to something, that what we’re doing is noteworthy, and it’s worth sticking around for.”

  1. Cost savings

It requires fewer resources to source, recruit, and onboard a former employee than someone who’s entirely unfamiliar with your company. You may not even need to use a recruiter, and a boomerang employee can save you time and money by being ready to hit the ground running.

  1. Fresh skills and energy

If your employee left their position with your company in order to pursue a passion, gain new skills, or try their hand at building a startup, they will have grown and changed during their absence. When they return, they are likely to bring fresh talent, knowledge, and networking contacts to your company.

Warning signs

While hiring boomerang employees is usually a net plus, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls in this practice. If an employee left due to personality conflicts, and the problems stopped as soon as they were gone, it’s not worth taking a chance on reintroducing a source of disruption. Likewise, if the employee was not performing exceptionally well at the time of departure, they need to have a clear explanation regarding what factors interfered with their previous performance, and why things are different this time.

As companies recognize the benefits that boomerang employees bring with them, these returning workers are being welcomed back in far greater numbers than they once were. Seventy-six percent of HR professionals note that they have become more open to re-hiring previous employees than they used to be, while 56 percent say they now give high priority to former employees who left in good standing, according to a Kronos survey. Judicious rehiring of good workers is increasingly recognized as a way to bring fresh energy and value to your organization.

recruiting great recruiters

5 tips for recruiting great recruiters

Recruiters are key business personnel, because the quality of your entire organization depends on their ability to find and attract the best possible candidates. Competition for top recruiters is intense, but here are five tips on how to find a recruiter that will put you ahead of your competition:

Use an executive recruiting organization

If your company is large enough to need a specialized recruiter, it’s large enough to consider the option of hiring an outside recruiting organization. Investing in third-party expertise can have far-reaching benefits for the future of your company, since a top-notch HR hire will then go on to fill your ranks with equally excellent employees. If you decide to take this option, look for an executive search consultant or team that specifically outlines their background in sourcing HR talent.

Screen for key characteristics

When you publicize your company’s need for a new recruiter, you’ll encounter an assortment of candidate profiles. If you keep in mind the primary qualities of your ideal recruiter, you can build your selection process to screen for those specific qualities. According to Concordia University, the primary characteristics that you should look for in a recruiter are: organizational ability, ethics, communication skills, problem-solving acumen, leadership talent, and experience in the field.

Post the job in HR trade publications

To find professionals in any field, you go to the specialized online forums where they network with each other. Human resources professionals are consummate networkers, and a focused HR job board on their favorite trade publication is likely to be the first place they’ll look for new opportunities. Two examples are HR Jobs at the Society for Human Resource Management and the Career Center at Workforce HR Jobs.

Take a team approach to hiring

Whether you’re adding to an already-existing HR department or hiring your first dedicated recruiter, the decision is too important to rest solely on one person’s opinion. It’s a good idea to interview potential HR candidates at least twice, and invite other managers to sit in on at least one of the interviews.

Present an updated view of HR’s function

The function of the recruiter within a company is currently undergoing a radical shift. In order to attract the top HR talent, you have to demonstrate your understanding of the new role that human resources leaders play in today’s organizations. Recruiting and hiring is no longer merely an administrative role; instead, HR professionals are key members in the company’s management team, helping build core strategy for the future.

Finding and attracting good recruiters requires a significant investment of resources, but this investment is one that will return abundant benefits in social and financial realms.

Characteristics of a good manager

Characteristics of a good manager: what can and can’t be taught

You’ve heard the expression “born leader” before. Is there such a thing? And if being a good manager is due to inborn traits, is there value in all the leadership training programs currently available? The truth, as you probably suspected, is a combination of both. Here’s a look at some of the inherent qualities that contribute to effective leadership, together with an exploration of the ones that can be taught:

Inherent leadership qualities

According to Psychology Today, about one third of leadership ability springs from a person’s innate tendencies. These include the following:

  • Extraversion: A good leader often has to deal with other people all day long, so it’s better to be energized rather than drained by the experience.
  • Social intelligence: Managers don’t necessarily need the kind of intelligence that allows people to solve calculus problems, but they need a quick understanding of the structure of social interactions.
  • Assertiveness: Obviously a leader must be willing to put their message out in clear terms.
  • Willingness to take risks: Leaders must be capable of taking calculated risks without being timid or foolhardy.
  • Empathy: Good leaders have the capacity to see the world through the eyes of those whom they direct.

Leadership qualities that are teachable

In one study, managers who took a leadership course saw improvement in many of the characteristics of a good manager as long as they started with one key quality: employee motivation. University of Notre Dame, which offers leadership training, identifies business course topics that contribute to the development of skilled leaders. These topics include:

  • Good communication skills: A person’s extroversion is only beneficial if it is backed up by skillful speaking and writing abilities.
  • Team building ability: Leading depends on building effective working groups and bringing stakeholders together. This is the learned skill that extends social intelligence into measurable progress.
  • Recognition of the need for change: Taking bold steps to enact change when it’s necessary can feel risky, but a good manager is ready to step outside their safety zone and try something completely different.
  • Vision and goal setting: A persuasive manager develops visions and goals interactively through an empathetic understanding of subordinates’ needs.

Tips on training your managers

Leadership author Erika Anderson points out that the central leadership quality of self-awareness can be developed by inviting feedback from direct reports and encouraging managers to listen carefully. Instituting organizational channels for two-way communication between managers and their teams is good way to nurture self-awareness.

Rudy Giuliani is quoted as having said, “Leadership does not simply happen. It can be taught, learned, developed.” With training opportunities available to develop their innate abilities, your managers can prove his point.

Team Morale

How to maintain morale when you let employees go

When employees are laid off or fired, it can damage the morale of the team members who remain. The dismissal of a colleague can also erode the trust and loyalty that your employees feel toward you, even if you had excellent reasons for making your decision. Here are three tips for helping your department maintain high team morale in the aftermath of layoffs or firings:

Acknowledge the situation

There’s no way to have a comfortable conversation when you’re talking about workers who you’ve had to let go. Unfortunately, there is also no good way to avoid having that conversation. Simma Lieberman, a California management consultant says, “One of the worst actions management can take during this time is to not acknowledge the situation and the impact it is having on employees. This only makes the situation worse.” Being proactive in initiating a discussion of these events allows you to address employee anxiety and clear up misperceptions. Worker trust can only be rebuilt within a climate of transparency.

Present a continuity plan

Your employees will have two big questions in their minds following layoffs or firings, and a continuity plan is necessary to address both of these questions. The first question is: Is my job safe? To renew a sense of engagement within your company, you need to lay out a clear plan to show your workers why you need them and how their contribution is crucial to your mission. The second question you’ll hear is: Who’s going to cover the extra work? This should be clearly addressed with specifics and you should also be open to feedback from those employees whom you expect to shoulder the extra burden.

Head off further turnover

It might seem as though the workers who still have jobs after a round of layoffs or firings would breathe a sigh of relief. In fact, however, research published in Harvard Business Review notes that companies typically see “a substantial increase in voluntary departures after layoffs, even if the downsizing was small.” Watching a colleague lose their source of livelihood is disturbing for the whole team, and uncertainty and discouragement run rampant in the wake of that disruption. The Harvard research warns that your highest performers are the likeliest to quit after losing members of their team. As a manager, you’ll need to direct some specifically encouraging energy to these capable employees, emphasizing to them that the downsizing has opened up new doors to advancement for them.

It’s never easy to let workers go, and dealing with the aftermath can be tricky. Handled correctly, though, team morale can be maintained and productivity protected.

 

Bad Bosses

Repairing the damage done by bad bosses

If you’re entering a leadership role after your team has suffered the ill effects of a bad boss, you’ve got a list of important tasks ahead of you to repair the damage. You may find your employees discouraged and unproductive in the wake of poor management, and you will need to introduce an entirely new climate for team operations. While this is a tricky task, it’s an important one, because you’ll be making the workplace a much more pleasant and productive place for everyone.

Encourage employee feedback

There are different kinds of bad bosses, from the micromanagers to the inept, to the disconnected and the downright mean. Find out what kind of damage control you need to do by asking employees to submit anonymous, written responses to a few questions. The anonymity will provide a sense of safety and encourage people to be honest, and open-ended questions such as, “What changes would you like to see in our operations?” allow the real problems to surface. Follow up this input with face-to-face meetings dedicated to creating a new team atmosphere. On an ongoing basis, make clear that feedback in your organization goes in both directions: Explain that supervisors and managers will continue to seek feedback from direct reports.

Build positive team relationships

You and your direct reports can set the tone for a productive workplace environment by using a multi-pronged approach:

  • Transparency: Share department goals and strategy openly with all members of your staff so that everyone feels that they have a share in working toward those goals.
  • Employee Wellness: Encourage workers to take their vacation days and get plenty of exercise, so they can recharge their energy.
  • Better Work-Life Balance: Introduce options for flexible scheduling and working from home, to ease pressure on employees with family caregiving responsibilities.
  • Employee Recognition: Give workers a boost by recognizing them when they put in extra effort on a project. Noticing and rewarding individuals who show dedication is an essential part of building employee loyalty.

“Chase the vision, not the money.” This quote, from Zappo’s uber-successful CEO Tony Hsieh, points out that the most important element to long-term success is building an organization where people love to work. It’s not easy to alleviate the disruption and disillusionment that bad bosses create within a team, but with focused effort, it’s very possible. The outcome is happier workers in the short term and a stronger department in the years to come.

Performance Improvement Plans

How to handle performance improvement plans without causing disengagement

If employees have been underperforming, performance improvement plans are sometimes the best option. This process can be awkward for managers as well as employees, but the right approach can reduce everyone’s discomfort and contribute to better employee alignment. Here are four tips for increasing the chances that your employees will react constructively when you have to put them on a PIP:

Provide specific factual documentation

To keep the discussion focused and avoid sidetracking into argument, it’s important to cite exact dates and descriptions of problem episodes. The most concise format for documentation includes a description of the behavior or product that was expected, an outline of what the employee actually did, and a list of the consequences of the employee’s actions. In addition, if any earlier remedy or consequences were put in place as a consequence of that episode, it is important to include a notation of those.

Schedule face-to-face meetings

No good manager relies only on written communication for such a sensitive interaction. You should speak to your employee in person to inform them about the fact that you will be putting them on a PIP and then send them initial written documentation. After they receive the documentation, it is imperative that you schedule a face-to-face meeting in which you can have a two-way conversation about the issue. Following your conversation, you can confirm what you agreed on in a document that you both sign.

Ask employees what they need

In some cases, an employee’s sub-par performance is the result of insufficient resources, training, tools, or other support. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to come into the PIP meeting with an open mind rather than with an assumption that the employee is entirely culpable. A productive PIP meeting should be based on the attitude that you and the employee are collaborating on finding solutions for a problem.

Develop an action plan together

While you may enter the discussion with some clear requirements in mind, it’s important that the employee have a voice in developing the action plan. If additional training is one of the items on your action plan it may be beneficial to ask the employee exactly what skills they would most like to improve. The key to a successful PIP is having employee alignment and buy-in.

Handled properly, a performance improvement plan can turn out to be a positive experience for a struggling worker. If you seek input from your employee and approach them with the sense of solving a problem together, the PIP can be a bridge to a more productive working relationship.

Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

Employee Coaching

How to improve your 1:1 manager meetings

Holding regular one-on-one meetings with your employees is a major component of employee alignment, coaching, and good management. Not only are they a great way to build individual relationships with your employees, but there is often information that’s not appropriate to cover in a group setting. Handled correctly, these meetings offer abundant benefits for you, your staff, and your entire company. Here’s a quick look at how you can optimize the benefits of your individual meetings with employees:

How you benefit from 1:1 meetings with your direct reports

Meeting with your individual employee allows you to see beyond their output, giving you insight into their essential wellbeing. You will know ahead of time if the person is anticipating difficulties accomplishing their work, and you’re also likely to learn about any conflicts occurring between employees. Effective management depends on your awareness of what underlies high productivity, as well as the nature of existing and future obstacles. Furthermore, you will become a better manager as you absorb and learn from your employees’ feedback.

How your employees benefit from 1:1 meetings with you

Your direct reports rely on you to help them clear any work-related roadblocks they are experiencing. When you provide employee coaching and constructive feedback, you’re showing that you value each individual worker, enhancing your relationship and enabling them to work at their highest capability.

How your company benefits from your 1:1 meetings

Employee wellbeing has a direct effect on productivity. When you take the time to have regular one-on-one meetings, you are creating an environment in which personnel problems are solved before they become acute. Your organization saves money when employee turnover is reduced, and employee loyalty is strengthened when workers understand how their tasks align with the mission and goals of the company as a whole.

5 best-practice tips for one-on-one meetings

Follow these 5 tips to maximize the benefit of your one-on-one meetings:

  • Hold them in a private, non-distracting environment.
  • Don’t use the meeting time to deal with disciplinary issues.
  • Prepare your agenda and share it ahead of time with your employee.
  • Ask open questions and encourage your employee to initiate new topics.
  • Send a short set of “minutes” to the employee afterward to strengthen and formalize the points you discussed.

When handled correctly, individual meetings enable you and your employees to effectively navigate the sometimes complex web of managerial relationships.

How to Recruit Employees

In-house or outsource: choosing the right recruiting method for the job

The average time to fill an open position is now close to a month. During that time, the costs of the unfilled position mount up. Being shorthanded can damage the morale of the remaining employees, require paying overtime to complete projects, or prevent the company from meeting deadlines or taking on new work. Companies need to use the most effective methods possible to bring in a replacement worker quickly in order to minimize the time, effort, and expenses associated with the recruiting process and the unfilled position. When you’re thinking about how to recruit employees, you should weigh the pros and of conducting your own candidate search using internal recruiters on your human resources staff or hiring a specialty head-hunting firm. Here’s a look at when you should do it in-house and when you should hand off the effort to a specialist.

Keep recruiting in-house
If you already have a recruiter on your HR staff, you should start the employee search process by working with them. If you’ve filled other positions recently, you probably have a pool of resumes from candidates who weren’t right for those positions but might be ideal for this new opportunity. Reaching out to contacts you already have can save you time in identifying your new hire. Your in-house staff will also be able to identify any current employees who may be looking for a transfer or are ready to step up and assume new responsibility. Using an internal transfer to fill a position shortcuts the onboarding process significantly, and often improves morale for employees who see that career growth is possible.

Outsource recruiting to a specialist
If you’re hiring for a very specialized skill or for a very senior-level position, a headhunter who specializes in that field or in executive recruitment is likely to have more connections and a deeper network of potential candidates than you could contact on your own. Working with an external recruiter is also effective if your own staff is overloaded with other responsibilities. The external team can do the preliminary screening and involve you only when an applicant is a solid potential match. If you’ve been conducting your own search and not finding candidates you like, that’s another time to reach out for assistance and work with a recruiting firm who knows how to recruit employees that are a better fit for your business.

Of course, if you don’t have a recruiter on your HR team, you’ll turn to a recruiting firm to fill open positions. If you plan to do a lot of hiring, you might even consider opening a position for a recruiter as well.

Promotion Criteria

7 signals that your employee is ready for a promotion

Filling an open position with an outside hire takes time. According to Indeed, if a position isn’t filled within one month, there’s a 57 percent chance it will take three months or longer to find the right hire. Promoting an inside candidate is a great solution, as long as the employee is up to the new job. Here are seven promotion criteria to use when deciding whether your employees are ready to move to the next level:

  1. They’ve asked for one

Asking for a promotion doesn’t guarantee ability or employee success, but it’s a sign that they want the new position. They’ll be motivated and eager to take on the new challenges.

  1. They exceed their responsibilities

Promotion candidates should excel in their current responsibilities, but they should also stretch beyond the tasks assigned to them — without being asked. They view the success of the project as their responsibility and step up to make sure that happens.

  1. They’re recognized as leaders

Just because employees don’t have direct reports doesn’t mean they can’t act like leaders. If others on the team turn to a particular employee for insight and guidance, he or she has already taken on a leadership role.

  1. They’re curious

Employees who demonstrate interest in the big picture beyond their projects and task assignments are ready to start thinking about the bigger questions involved in running a project or business.

  1. They create solutions

Some employees report problems up the management chain. Employees with leadership ability report the problem as well as the solution they created to address it.

  1. They ask for feedback

Most people dread performance reviews, and many take offense at even constructive criticism. If an employee asks for feedback and applies it to improving his or her performance, that person has the motivation to develop new skills.

  1. They manage themselves

If your employee understands the purpose of the business and project so well that he or she doesn’t need to wait for instructions on what to do next, that person can take more responsibility and use that insight to manage and guide others.

Promoting from within can boost employee morale, not only for the promoted employees but also for peers who know that career advancement is real. They’ll be motivated to strive for promotions of their own. That’s good for your business as well as for your employee engagement levels.

 

Topgrading Intervew

What is Topgrade interviewing?

Employers today are more focused than ever on hiring for “fit.” They’re trying to find and vet employees that will jive with the culture, pace, and expectations that are unique to their workplace. With this evolution in priorities, there has also been an evolution in interviewing approaches. There are a wide variety of interview styles and question techniques out there, and Topgrading is one approach that claims to help you find better-quality candidates and reduce your number of mis-hires. In fact, it’s the approach that the recruiting team here at Achievers uses to make A-Player hires.

Topgrading seeks to mitigate two issues that can plague interviewing and job placement: candidate dishonesty and the inability of a hiring manager to imagine a candidate in action in the position. Even slight dishonesty or exaggeration can lead to a hire that is less than successful. Combine that with weaknesses on the part of the interviewer: a hiring manager who does not ask the right questions — or the right chronology of questions, which Topgrading relies on — can fail to identify the best candidates.

An important first step to successfully employing Topgrading in your organization is to fully build the profile of the ideal person. Look beyond day-to-day duties and minimum standards and truly flesh out a description of a candidate who could best fit that role. This ensures accurate comparison when it’s time to move to the next step, which is recruiting to fit.

Once the profile is built, you should lean on it to create your job description and advertisements. Compare all of your applications against this ideal profile. The need for organizational fit is becoming increasingly important in recruiting. Early meet-and-greet sessions with several suitable candidates can determine both initial fit and whether it would benefit both your organization and the candidate to continue on the interview process.

And that’s where Topgrading takes a hard right turn from many other recruiting and interviewing paradigms. Contemporary interview techniques often rely heavily on candidate-led meetings, where resumes are used to develop questions and interviewers ask job- and background-specific questions packaged for efficient-but-short interviews. In contrast, Topgrading relies on extremely comprehensive interviews that build chronologically from a candidate’s earliest relevant background up to their current competencies. Often, those in-depth interviews rely on equally depth-exploring written packets that walk candidates through step-by-step inquiries.

Sound time-intensive? Topgrading definitely is and often relies on having many people involved in the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process. However, the benefits — especially when filling hard-to-fill or organizationally key roles — can be enormous. When you get to know candidates at that level of detail, you can better assess their true fit within your organization. Chronologically documenting a candidate’s education and experience can ferret out dishonesties large and small that they may have relied on previously to gain new roles.

Technical Recruiting

The non-tech-savvy manager’s guide to hiring tech employees

Tech employees are a hot commodity in today’s job market. Your company has to compete with a lot of other popular employers if you want to hire the best web designers, IT professionals, software developers, and app builders. In many cases, the hiring managers tasked with technical recruiting have no background in tech themselves, and so they may find it difficult to identify, interview, and assess tech candidates. If this predicament sounds familiar to you, then you’ll benefit from using a few straightforward techniques to find the best person for your team.

Ask your network for help writing your job posting

It may be difficult for you to even compose an effective job posting if you don’t have a command of the necessary language, so you should use your networking skills. Hubspot recommends that non-techie hiring managers make an effort to consult with friends in the tech industry to describe the job. Work with your contacts to determine which programming languages, platforms, software, or specialties your team requires. For instance, do you know the difference between a front-end and a back-end developer? If you don’t, you better get that clarified before you create your job description.

Look for tech talent where they hang out

Find your tech talent in their natural environments. Consider looking around college campuses or “hackathons,” events usually several days long where many people compete or collaborate in computer programming. Talented developers may frequent popular websites such as HackerNews, or if you really want to stretch, you could find them in the parking lot of a big company that’s laying off a lot of workers — one employer found new staff in Yahoo’s parking lot when he brought a free food truck there after Yahoo’s big layoffs.

Present the big picture

Forbes contributor Meghan Biro advises communicating why your company is a great place to work: “Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies.” Instead, she urges managers to describe the nature of your workplace culture and the organization’s accomplishments. If you get potential candidates excited about your future goals, they’ll want to be part of those outcomes.

Check out portfolios

Many applicants for tech positions arrive at the interview with a portfolio of finished projects, and these examples can give your entire team a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit. You can also assign a small test project as part of the vetting process; then rely on your in-house experts or outside consultants to judge the quality of the results.

Employee Engagement Ideas

The best new employee engagement ideas for 2016

Employee engagement is “the top human resource challenge organizations anticipate facing in the next three to five years,” according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. If you want to stay ahead of this challenge, you need to keep your employee engagement strategy fresh, relevant, and exciting for all of your employees. Here are a few employee engagement ideas we think you should implement in 2016:

Introduce gamification

One coffee company found that their employees were having trouble retaining detailed information about their products, so it introduced a game-like quiz designed for mobile devices. Top performers on these quizzes were rewarded with gift cards and other employee rewards, while managers gave special attention and mentoring to those who had more difficulty.

Open the door with office hours

Good managers are the “closest thing to a silver bullet” in building employee engagement, according to management consultant Oliver Mincey, and accessibility is key. Holding regular weekly “office hours” is one way for high-level executives to welcome informal conversation with employees from all levels of the company. Encourage all staff members to provide feedback, voice concerns, ask questions, and share new ideas during this time; employees will feel valued, and you’re likely to acquire actionable suggestions.

Align individuals with company vision

The Federal Office of Personnel Management has released a 2016 plan for increasing employee alignment. One of their primary recommendations is that managers demonstrate to employees that their individual job responsibilities are specifically relevant to carrying out the organization’s mission. This will place the employee’s daily tasks in a highly meaningful context, leading to a natural outcome of greater engagement.

Encourage brand ambassadors

In today’s networked landscape, it makes sense to establish a presence in your employees’ social media communications. MarketingLand points out that skillful managers equip their employees with shareable company content. When a worker’s personal branding overlaps with organizational branding, the level of that worker’s engagement stays high.

Gallup poll published in 2016 found that almost 70 percent of workers across the United States feel disengaged and dissatisfied with their jobs, and their flagging employee motivation ends up costing American businesses between 450 and 550 billion each year. Don’t let your business become part of these negative statistics; whether you use the employee engagement ideas listed here or come up with your own alternatives, it’s important to remember that your company’s health is only as strong as the engagement of your people.

 

Talent Management Strategy

3 biggest talent management challenges for 2016

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

HR Trends for 2016

Top 3 HR trends for 2016

In 2016, look for organizations to tighten their focus on people management, from building an inclusive company culture to increasing employee engagement. HR trends to watch for 2016 include these three hot topics:

1. Increased use of data analysis

Analyzing data to gather consumer information has been a staple of marketing strategy for decades, but data analytics is only now starting to catch on for HR professionals. One study indicates that the use of big data for people management is gathering momentum, with the current industry average at 42 percent. Smart HR professionals will be honing their data analysis skills so they can make meaningful contributions to strategic conversations in 2016.

2. Revamped performance management processes

Research shows that traditional performance management processes are falling by the wayside. A 2014 Deloitte study determined that only 8 percent of HR professionals considered their performance management process to be a key driver in adding value to business operations. However, that number jumped to 75 percent in the 2015 survey. In fact, 89 percent of respondents stated that they plan to change their performance evaluation process in the next 18 months.

This overhaul is overdue. In our 2015 North American Workforce survey, we discovered that 60 percent of respondents don’t receive on-the-spot feedback. The traditional annual and semi-annual reviews do little to remedy systemic issues with timely feedback and performance management, and fortunately many HR professionals are beginning to agree.

3. Updated employee development

The final HR trend for 2016 is a shift in the approach to employee training and development. Gone are the days in which staff can expect only enough training to perform their job functions. Today’s workers want continuous improvement of their skills in order to prepare for promotions or pursue passion projects.

In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 42 percent of workers considered their employer’s commitment to professional development to be very important to their engagement, but 46 percent were dissatisfied with their employer’s commitment to building skills. Business leaders are becoming aware of the changing emphasis on development, as the issue moved from the eighth most critical challenge for employers in Deloitte’s 2014 survey to the third most critical challenge in the 2015 report.

With the job market transitioning from employer-driven to candidate-driven, retaining top talent stands to be a challenge in 2016. Increased employee engagement is critical to staying competitive, and forward-thinking managers will ensure that they lead the way when it comes to increased data analysis, improved performance management processes, and enhanced employee development.

Micromanager

How to reform a micromanager

Simply by position alone, managers have a major impact on employee productivity. This is good when the manager has the skills and experience to get the best work out of their direct reports. It’s not so good when managing slides into micromanaging. As anyone who has ever worked under a micromanager can tell you, it’s a surefire method of making employees feel stressed and disengaged. Here are a few tips on how you can recognize when supervisors are veering into micromanagement terrain and guide them back to supporting their staff members in a healthy way.

Identify your micromanagers

Harvard Business Review provides a handy checklist for identifying micromanaging behavior. It finds that micromanagers:

  • Are never quite satisfied with deliverables
  • Often feel frustrated because they would have gone about the task differently
  • Laser in on the details and take great pride and/or pain in making corrections
  • Constantly want to know where all their team members are and what they’re working on
  • Ask for frequent updates on where things stand and prefer to be cc’d on all emails

Productively reform your micromanager

First, it’s essential to realize that people with a tendency to micromanage are usually passionately dedicated to their work and deeply invested in good outcomes. As you assist them in taking a step back from the jungle of details they’re wading through, you can express your appreciation for their commitment to organizational goals.

Next, help your micromanagers articulate why they feel they must take responsibility for everything. Their reasons are often based in fear that too much is at stake or that the work won’t get completed correctly. Once they clearly identify their concerns, you’ll be in a position to help them logically examine these issues. In some cases, you may uncover actual personnel problems that need to be addressed, but usually you can ease their worries by presenting the benefits of stepping back a bit.

It’s also beneficial to encourage micromanagers to ask for feedback from their teams. In many instances, overly involved supervisors sincerely believe they’re being helpful by shouldering responsibilities, and they may try to change their habits if they hear from direct reports that their approach is actually counterproductive.

Strengthen productivity by improving management practices

Managing the managers is one of the trickier interpersonal challenges facing HR directors and executives, but it’s a crucial element of organizational success. Employee engagement and productivity throughout your company are nurtured when workers feel trusted to carry out tasks on their own.

Employee Performance Review

Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown

The performance review process is undergoing a revolution. One by one, mega-corporations like GE, Adobe, Accenture, Microsoft, and Netflix are announcing they’re scrapping their annual rankings- or ratings-based performance management systems and replacing them with real-time feedback systems. The reason is clear: Real-time feedback is a better fit for today’s fast-paced business environment and a younger, tech-savvy generation of workers.

Out with the archaic system

The traditional annual or semi-annual employee performance review system is the model that most businesses still use to assess performance, justify compensation increases, and provide feedback. In a technology-driven, constantly changing corporate environment, the often tedious, once-a-year evaluations—that risk inspiring employee fear more than improved performance—are already in danger of becoming archaic.

The traditional rank- and ratings-based system carries a lot of potential negatives, including causing high levels of employee frustration, pitting employees against each other, and fostering disengagement. In the context of neuroscience, the disengagement emanates from the employee’s brain responding negatively to being compared to others instead of being assessed as an individual. Once disengaged, feedback falls on deaf ears.

Annual or semi-annual evaluations can also be ineffective when the focus tilts too heavily toward things said and done many months ago. Millennials want real-time feedback as a means of achieving high performance levels in their current environment. As the first generation of workers to grow up with instant communication, they expect more frequent evaluations and fast, relevant feedback.

Reluctance to let go of the past

There has been a reluctance to let go of the traditional employee performance review process. For all its faults, it’s a well-embedded process, and alternatives are untested by time. Only 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have moved away from annual ratings, per the Institute for Corporate Productivity. However, when GE decided to scrap performance reviews, people took notice because the company had one of the most rigid review systems for one of the world’s largest workforces.

In the old GE system, employees were reviewed annually, ranked against peers, and the bottom percentage fired. The new system works very differently. GE is rolling out a process in which managers and direct reports hold regular and informal “touchpoints” for reviewing and revising priorities based on customer needs, and providing immediate feedback following assignments. Regular, personalized feedback is delivered via an app to 307,000 employees.

Deloitte conducted a public survey on ranking- and ratings-based performance management systems, and the results were dismal. Only 8 percent of respondents believe their performance management system drives high value levels. Deloitte concluded from the responses that traditional performance management systems actually damage employee engagement and alienate high performers.

In with the new real-time feedback system

With such large and well-known companies realizing it’s more effective to regularly provide employee feedback because one size does not fit all, more widespread adoption seems likely to follow. Real-time feedback can make your employees feel recognized and appreciated for the work they’re doing now, not 12 months ago. It can also improve the quality of feedback because it concerns current performance, enabling employee behavior adjustments that can improve productivity immediately.

Real-time feedback also creates a valuable and uplifting two-way dialogue, rather than a top-down assessment. Your employees get unique feedback without being boxed in by a set of questions, and high performers can get the tools needed to succeed now. Real-time feedback turns the employee performance review into ongoing coaching. There are various forms of real-time feedback. They include weekly one-on-one meetings with managers, routine catch-up sessions via email or an intranet communication program, engagement surveys, feedback apps, and real-time recognition programs.

Real-time recognition programs can be particularly successful in building engagement within the broader business context, because they include peer and management feedback. Across the company, your employees can celebrate wins together. The showdown between real-time feedback and annual reviews has arrived, and real-time feedback is off to a fast start.

The Peter Principle

Promotions & the Peter Principle: how to find the sweet spot where employees succeed

How do you choose which employees to promote? If you’re like most managers, your answer is straightforward: You move up the workers who perform their duties most competently. Unfortunately, relying on strong performance as your only criterion for promotion may cause your organization to suffer from the Peter Principle. This principle was identified over four decades ago by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. They observed that as workers were steadily moved upward in a hierarchy, they eventually reached a position where their competence could no longer warrant further promotion. As a manager, it’s crucial that you understand and guard against the Peter Principle operating in your organization. Here are some insights to help you build an effective promotion strategy and make sure each employee is positioned at the level of his or her greatest strength.

Maintain a fluid organizational structure

Steve Jobs encouraged innovation at Apple by moving workers around from one project to another, taking advantage of individual skills and combating stagnation. Likewise, Zappos fueled its vigorous profit margin by eliminating the classic management hierarchy in favor of a model made up of team “circles.” By sidestepping the traditional hierarchies, these successful companies enable workers to display a wider range of abilities. People skilled at a particular function receive pay raises rather than promotions, thus rewarding them while maintaining them where they excel. Individuals with leadership skills are able to put their talents to use in an organic way, emerging over time as natural leaders.

Identify the unique skills each position requires

Each successive level of responsibility doesn’t necessarily require more the same skills as the previous position. Proctor and Gamble chairman A.G. Lafley observes in Harvard Business Review that promotions can be a “jump shift,” especially at the executive level. Humana Board Member William J. McDonald adds, “I think one of the biggest mistakes boards make is to assess people only in the context of their current jobs.” If you clarify the precise skill set of the new position, you can objectively decide which candidate is best equipped for the job.

Test out and nurture leadership ability

There is no magic formula for recognizing intrinsic leadership talent among the ranks of your employees. But if you make a practice of giving everyone occasional responsibilities outside of their usual duties, you can discover unexpected abilities. Switching up the standard task allotment has the additional benefit of breaking up boredom and increasing worker motivation. Management development expert Jeanette Suflita advises, “Provide your potential leaders with temporary leadership opportunities. It’s an excellent way for them to try out their skills and to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.” Those with standout management talent can be offered mentoring, coaching and formal leadership development training so that they’ll be ready when a new position becomes available.

Understanding the Peter Principle is essential for the health of your business, because an incompetent manager will drive your best employees to look for more satisfying positions. A recent Gallup study found that 50 percent of employees who left their jobs cited bad managers as their primary reason. If you promote your natural leaders to management roles, and leave the talented line workers in place to apply their unique competence, you can build a robust, productive organization.

Managing Millennials

3 reasons you should let Millennials manage

Are you hesitant to put Millennials in managerial roles because of their youth and lack of experience? This hesitancy is certainly understandable. As an experienced professional manager, you’re well aware that years in the industry provide insights that no newcomer can automatically acquire. However, it turns out that your company can still benefit from the unique skills younger staff members can bring to leadership roles. Here are three reasons you should look for Millennials with characteristics of a good leader and give them a chance to shine.

Millennials are big on transparency

Younger managers can command loyalty from their direct reports by creating an atmosphere of transparency throughout the work environment. This openness extends from compensation to strategy and company process. With this outlook, Millennial managers will expect productivity to rely on the shared efforts of the group. When problems arise, they can sidestep resentment of their authority, drawing on the collective mind for solutions.

Millennials seek networks, not hierarchy

Training Magazine points out that young adults grew up in a networked social media environment, where they’re related to a web of connections rather than a chain of command. Freed from a preoccupation with preserving authority, they can easily solicit and accept feedback. This willingness to put mutual goals ahead of personal aggrandizement can foster an open exchange of ideas, increasing company-wide trust and leading to valuable innovation.

Millennials give more frequent feedback

Millennials don’t measure productivity in terms of hours at a desk, and they’re not usually fans of formal, scheduled performance reviews. Instead, they’ll use their emotional intelligence to stay connected with their staff, rewarding effort and productivity with frequent, informal expressions of appreciation.

Fast Company reports that Millennials are ready and eager to lead: 82 percent of workers in this age group express an interest in managing, compared with only 57 percent of employees of other ages. Chief Executive Magazine advises that up-and-coming young leaders can be groomed by whetting their curiosity and exposing them to new ideas, then personalizing their contribution and activating their inherent desire to do good in the world.

When you give your most talented young leaders a chance to step forward, and balance their innovative style with the insights of more experienced staff, you’re taking steps toward establishing a robust basis for transitioning your company well into the coming decades.

Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

Seismic shift #3: From theoretical models to real-world behaviors

The third of the seismic shifts that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work is the move from theoretical models to real-world behaviors, according to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham.

As he explained at Achievers Customer Experience 2015, the seismic shifts will force organizations to zoom in from current broad, depersonalized views to localized, team-based approaches to talent management. Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, shared that today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people.

One area for change is with competency models. As an employee moves up in a company, the competency model grows to “require” more skills and traits for the job. Buckingham says there is no real data to support competency models, and – very importantly – no one person will have all of the traits, qualities, and competencies in the model. Instead, companies need to get away from models as a way to define positions, people, and promotions and move toward tools for real managers and teams.

For instance, look at this 40-point competency model created by NASA for Systems Engineering leaders. It seems impossible to be able to accurately measure employees based on this overwhelming set of attributes.

NASA Competency Model

Buckingham said that when you study the best teams in an organization, ask the right questions, and compare the answers you get from the best teams to the answers you get from the worst teams, you can see the difference. The questions are in four key areas – Purpose, Excellence, Support, and Future – and are designed to probe how the employee feels about the team and about himself/herself in relation to the organization. Here are some examples:

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  3. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  4. I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work.

The manager – the team lead – is responsible for making employees feel connected to something larger and ensuring they feel they have a stake in it. Organizations must hold team leaders accountable not only for their team’s performance, but also for how team members feel about the organization.

The challenge for today’s enterprise is to move the organization’s view and workforce analytics to the local level while balancing the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Marcus Buckingham Performance Ratings

Seismic shift #2: From big data to real-time, reliable data

Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and founder of TMBC, outlined the three seismic shifts in talent management that will take an organization’s focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.  During his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, Buckingham explained that organizations will need to move from big data to real-time, reliable data.

According to him, performance ratings data is typically “garbage” because it is generated only once or twice per year, and it’s based on the fallacy that human beings can be reliable of raters of other human beings. In fact, he says that humans are horribly unreliable and have been recognized as unreliable for years.

Enterprises invest billions in the traditional performance reviews that take place each year. After the reviews are completed, data has to be compiled, reviewed, and analyzed by human resources and then packaged up and sent back to leaders before anyone can get a raise, promotion, or learning development plan (or termination). But these workforce analytics are based on obsolete data. It would be better, as noted in the previous post, to upend the process and make performance reviews an ongoing activity in which managers ask real questions about their employees.

In traditional performance reviews, more than half of the rating is based on the patterns of how the manager rates. For instance, if a manager has given a 4 to two employees in a row, they’ll likely be more inclined to give a 3 or a 5 to the next person in the line. According to the study Understanding the Latent Structure of Job Performance Ratings, “Our results show that a greater proportion of variance in ratings is associated with biases of the rater than with the performance of the ratee.”

Companies have known about – and have been trying to remove – these idiosyncratic rater effects (IRE) for decades. Recently, some companies have decided to stop doing performance reviews altogether. But Buckingham says that reviewing isn’t the problem; it’s the ratings and the IRE that are leading to bad data.

Companies actually need a range of data and a differential between people in order to determine how to pay and promote them. He says companies should be asking: How do we capture good data about our employees?

This takes us back to the team lead. Buckingham says instead of asking the leader to rate his or her employees objectively (which is rarely possible), you should turn the questions around so that the rater is asked to record their own feelings and actions:

  • I always go to Jane when I need extraordinary results. (1-5)
  • I choose to work with Jane as much as I possibly can. (1-5)
  • Would I promote him/her today if I could? (Y/N)
  • Does he/she have a performance problem that I need to address immediately? (Y/N)

Taking those answers and comparing them to data about the team leaders’ intentions for the team, noting how long he/she has worked with each employee, and understanding that each leader has innate rating tendencies (more critical or more ____, for example), creates natural, real performance ranges that can be used to make solid decisions about pay, promotions, and training.

Marcus Buckingham Talent Management

Seismic shift #1: From serving the organization to serving the team leader

The three seismic shifts that will affect human beings, human capital, and human resources, according to Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and chair and founder of TMBC, will change organizations’ focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.

At Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, he elaborated on the first of three: the shift from serving the organization to serving the team leader. As he noted, in any given company, with policies, procedures, culture, and environment being equal, the success of teams can still vary wildly. The only difference? The way the team leader manages the team.

Buckingham says that no matter where you work, as the team leader goes, so goes the organization. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are made to serve the organization rather than the team. Most HR departments launch initiatives centrally and push them down to the employees. Buckingham suggests shifting the focus to the local level by borrowing the processes of successful teams and pushing those practices back up.

One way to do this is to change the performance review process. Instead of a once-a-year snapshot (that requires managers to rate employees on a scale) that is fed back to the central HR department for compilation, review, and analysis before being cascaded back to the manager, he said the process should be frequent, local, and personalized. He emphasized that HR should never be the first department to get their hands on performance review data and workforce analytics – everything should go to the team leaders first, so that they can act quickly on the findings.

This can be accomplished by moving the focus away from a traditional rating scale to questions that allow the manager to asses less subjective information:

  • What are the strengths of the people on the team – what can each person do?
  • What are the teams doing now – where is the work?
  • How are the team members feeling – right now?

We need to have managers start asking and answering these three questions right now and on a regular basis. By moving the focus from ratings, which Buckingham notes are subject to interpretation by each manager (some managers never give a “3,” for example), to real questions about real people, an organization can truly measure where each team members’ strengths lie and – importantly for engagement – how they feel about their work.

By  serving the  manager rather than the organization and focusing on real-time results and dynamic teams, Buckingham says a company can model success from the bottom up.

Our next post will focus on the 2nd seismic shift: from big data to real-time, reliable data.

Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

3 seismic shifts that will reshape organizational behavior

There are three seismic shifts underfoot that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work.

These shifts will force organizations to zoom in from their broad, depersonalized view and instead take a localized, team-based approach to talent management. According to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham, organizations need to overhaul the traditional performance review process and upend existing competency models.

Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, has dedicated his career to exploring and addressing the complex issues of strengths, management, and leadership in the workplace. He described the three following shifts during his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience 2015:

  • From serving the organization to serving the team leader – Today’s workforce tools are made to serve the organization, but no matter where you work, the team leader affects how successful their employees will be. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are not built to serve the team leader. Performance management, employee engagement, etc., are built to serve the organization.
  • From big data to real-time, reliable data – Predictive data is ubiquitous in today’s organizations, but no matter how great the algorithm, if you put in bad data, you’ll get bad data in return. In fact, the way most organizations gather performance ratings data results in faulty workforce analytics.
  • From theoretical models to real-world behaviors – Today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people, and measure against a set of competencies and skills that are expanded upon as an employee moves up in an organization. This isn’t realistic for two reasons: a) no one person possesses all of the competencies and skills “required” by any given workforce model; and b) there is no data to support competency models, so organizations should not promote against them.

The challenge for HR and business leaders in making these shifts will be finding and deploying tools – many of which exist already – to take the organization’s view from “we” to “me.”

In the following posts, we will explore how Buckingham says organizations can take the focus from a central to a local approach, and how they can balance the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Jennifer MClure at ACE 2015

HR, get the C-suite’s attention by keeping the bottom line in mind

Today’s HR professionals should think of themselves as business leaders who happen to work in human resources. When they behave that way, they will be perceived that way by the C-suite, according to Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC.

McClure spoke at Achievers Customer Experience 2015 about “Getting the C-Suite’s Attention: 7 Strategies for Transforming from HR Leader to Business Leader.” For the past three years, CEOs have listed Human Capital as their number-one challenge, and they look to human resources to help them overcome that challenge. HR leaders must learn to speak to business executives in terms of strategic direction, planning, problem solving and – more than anything else – in terms of money and finances.

McClure outlined seven areas in which an HR leader must transform the way they’re thinking and the way they’re positioning their work. She said that to evolve into a respected business leader, an HR leader must first overcome the fact that data used for workforce planning (absenteeism, retention, etc.) is historical. It’s critical that HR leaders start looking forward, by understanding what needs you have today so that you can project what you’ll need tomorrow. It also is essential for an HR leader to understand which current employees hold institutional knowledge or could actually hurt the business if they left the organization.

Regardless of what industry you are practicing human resources in, McClure says that the “The War for Talent,” coined by McKinsey years ago, is still relevant today. Candidates today are in the driver’s seat, and organizations are in a position where they may be trying to “sell” their organization to people they may not have hired in the past. In fact, McKinsey also predicted a shortfall of up to 18 million skilled workers over the next 5 years, making it even harder for organizations to fill essential roles today and tomorrow.

HR leaders must be able to present human capital “problems” to CEOs with solutions in mind. Be prepared to present data and sell workforce planning and human capital ideas based on how they will help the business and support business strategy. Remembering to speak like a business leader – in terms of dollars and cents and the impact on the bottom line – will help any HR professional.

Onboarding new employees

2 things that set new hires up for failure

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, employers lose an average of 23 percent of all new hires within their first year. Among those who stay, one third of employees don’t meet expected levels of productivity.

These are alarming statistics. They indicate that new hires are not receiving the quality guidance and onboarding they need when starting a new position. It also means that you, the employer, are probably spending far more in hiring costs than you need to.

Onboarding new employees should be a priority initiative for your HR team, because it can have a dramatic impact on retention, productivity, and future hiring success. While there’s no single magic formula for successful programs, there are a couple of fundamental ways to get it wrong.

Unidirectional information

Experienced candidates might hit the ground running on their job’s technical aspects. However, they’ll still have plenty of basic questions they need answered: “Can I help myself to a stapler, or do I need to fill out a requisition form?” “Is this organization’s culture built around email communication, or should I speak to people face-to-face?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Most onboarding programs are designed to give information that the organization prioritizes, like the company history, executive bios, and corporate mission statements. While this information is important, your programs should also incorporate the needs of the employee. If you want new hires to feel more welcome, make sure they have an “office buddy” — someone who can set up their workspace and show them the lay of land. The earlier you can integrate the new hire into your company’s culture, the more productive they’ll be.

Not setting clear goals and milestones

Believe it or not, only 39 percent of companies set clear goals and establish milestones for new hires. Yet without clear performance criteria, employees may end up with too much or too little work, or perform tasks in a way that upsets the apple cart. So take the time to show them how you do things, and be open to suggestions if they know how to make a process cheaper, faster, or better.

Preparing the team is critical in this process, especially if another team member was overlooked for promotion. Managers can smooth away lingering resentment by explaining why the new hire was selected for the job. It helps if you can establish a set of team goals and objectives to help the new hire — and the team as a whole — succeed.

Successful onboarding requires viewing your organization through the new hire’s eyes. Quickly integrating them into company culture, and preparing the troops for the new arrival, allows the team to gel — and that can lead to higher-level functioning, greater collaboration, and increased productivity.

Mentorship Programs

How to improve employee onboarding with mentorship programs

Few things are more nerve-wracking than starting a new job. New hires are often apprehensive when they walk through the door on their first day, and their long-term engagement and success can be affected by how well you onboard them during the first few weeks. One great way to transition your new employees is through mentorship programs. By connecting rookie employees with seasoned mentors, you can improve morale, training quality, and even retention.   Tweet: By connecting rookie employees with seasoned mentors, you can improve morale, training quality, and even retention. http://ctt.ec/UYlu2+

Mentoring offers a host of perks for the entire workplace, such as a friendlier work atmosphere and enhanced job training. Workplace veterans can provide newbies with tips for internal processes, cultural norms, and even job-specific skills. For instance, at Achievers, all new hires are paired with a “buddy” who takes them out to lunch during their first week, introduces them to other employees, and helps them access all the resources they need to complete their onboarding paperwork and checklist.

This relationship can create an increased sense of belonging for new hires as well as a feeling of purpose for long-term employees. Instead of creating a competitive atmosphere in the workplace, you’re encouraging collaboration and peer-to-peer support.

Ideally, mentorship programs should be well-planned and thoughtfully executed to ensure that the process runs smoothly. HR should start off by talking with long-term, respected employees to gauge their interest in becoming mentors. Offering a reward for participation is a great way to entice mentors who might worry about time management and availability. At Achievers, both the new hire and the “buddy” receive reward points when the new hire successfully completes their onboarding checklist. This incentivizes both parties to work together to get everything done.

When building a mentorship program, it’s important to outline specifics like the pairing approach, program length, and collaboration frequency. Mentors will be more likely to participate if they understand exactly what their time commitment needs to be.

You’ll also need to decide how mentorships will be assigned and how outcomes will be measured. What’s the appropriate ratio of new hires to mentors? For smaller companies, a 1:1 ratio is ideal, but many large businesses prefer small groups.

Will new hires be paired with a peer or with a senior team member? Will they be paired with someone on their team or in a different department?

Before you roll out a mentorship program across your organization, consider recruiting a small test group of mentors and new hires that you work with closely to monitor their activities and get feedback. Take your learnings from the test group to create a carefully documented set of expectations and responsibilities for future mentors. Think strategically about how you can set incentives, and then publicize those incentives, to attract the best set of mentor volunteers. Mentoring will be one of the first impressions your company makes on new employees, so you want it to be easy, streamlined, and genuinely helpful.

Intern with Coffee

5 Ways to make life easier for your temps and interns

Many businesses follow specific procedures when they welcome new employees aboard. Typical activities include tours of the workplace, meeting fellow employees, and completing paperwork. These types of activities can improve employee engagement within the first few weeks, and they help employees understand what is expected of them. However, some businesses skimp on those welcome procedures with temps and interns, thinking: “Well, they won’t be here long, so we don’t need to invest in them.”

Thinking like this is a mistake. First, it leads to wasted time and wasted money as interns and temps struggle to acclimate and become productive. Second, interns and temps represent a recruiting pool from which companies can find employees who already understand and care about the business. You can help your temps and interns be more productive faster by making their lives easier right from the start. Most of these techniques you should already be using for your full-time employees, as well!

1. Eliminate guesswork during onboarding
Explain the situation that requires that a temp or intern be brought on instead of a regular employee. With interns, one possible reason (of several) is that the business values a fresh set of eyes and the recent knowledge in the field that a student brings. With temps, one reason could be that a temp can quickly and efficiently bring in a particular skill set. Doing this gets rid of any guesswork and feelings interns and temps have that they are expendable, and it increases their engagement. They’re aware that your business recognizes and values them.

2. Outline expectations and priorities
Define how you plan to measure success and what you need to see from the intern or temp. For example, you could write in the welcome packet and explain in an in-person meeting that the intern or temp should finish X project by X date, and work with ABC team. Explain priorities, possible challenges and how to address them, as well as the importance of the project. And don’t forget — employee recognition has a big impact on your employees’ happiness, so be sure to acknowledge when they do quality work and accomplish their goals.

3. Assign a mentor or buddy
You could have a handful of designated employees who always serve as “buddies” for your interns and temps, or you could solicit relevant staff to volunteer for this role depending on their department. In any case, the mentor should help the new person feel welcome by going to lunch with him or her, introducing them to other employees, giving them a tour of the office, and serving as secondary resource (along with the manager) for questions about the workplace.

4. Provide a dedicated workspace
Get newbies invested and engaged by giving them a sense of ownership. Ensure they have a dedicated space to work with all the supplies they need. If they have to struggle and scrimp for materials and a place to work from day to day, they won’t have the easiest work experience, nor will they be as eager to work for you in the future.

5. Involve your employees
The day before the intern or temp arrives, send a company-wide email explaining that X person is arriving and why, and what everyone can do to welcome him or her. Explain where he or she will be working, what projects they’ll be working on, and who they’ll be reporting to.

Job Personality Test

Do personality assessments really help with hiring?

In the interests of efficiency, the hiring process is becoming increasingly automated. Hiring managers and recruiters are continually developing new ways to save time, reduce manual effort, and identify the best possible candidates for each open role. One outcome of this shift is that hiring managers are relying to an ever-greater extent on personality assessment tests. According to The Wall Street Journal, 8 of the 10 most prominent private employers now incorporate pre-hire personality testing in their application process.

For employers interested in following this trend, an abundance of such tests are readily available. These tests range from classical personality-type assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to a variety of newer evaluation instruments, some of which are geared to specific industries or jobs. Many employers believe these tests can determine how well prospective job candidates will fare in their organization’s work environment, and whether they’ll be a good cultural fit. This information is particularly valuable given that employees who jive well with their company culture tend to have higher levels of engagement.

Despite their popularity, however, job personality tests do not always result in traceable benefits such as reduced churn or improved employee engagement. In fact, such tests may not even speed up the hiring process. Steven Davis, a University of Chicago economist interviewed in The Wall Street Journal article, found that as companies add more layers of pre-hire screening, the average time before a job is filled has expanded to the longest time on record: 26.8 days.

Furthermore, Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out that research has been available since 2002 demonstrating that personality testing doesn’t necessarily correlate with better job performance. Despite this evidence, however, the researchers found that HR professionals continue to place faith in the efficacy of such tests. The writers attribute this to the fact that busy hiring managers don’t have time to read academic research and are likelier to be swayed by their own industry trends.

There are some types of pre-employment testing that do offer measurable benefits, however. The HBR article cites evidence that testing for specific job-related competency is generally valuable, as are cognitive ability (intelligence) tests. While personality tests tend to measure transient states of mind, cognitive and functional tests measure stable traits that don’t undergo as much change, according to the HBR researchers. Such focused tests are also less subject to being “gamed” by savvy test-takers who can perceive the more desirable answers on personality tests and simply fill them out to please the potential employer.

The fact is that as a hiring manager, you have numerous powerful tools at your disposal for effectively screening job candidates, and you may prefer methods that are supported by solid evidence. Behavioral interview questions can be highly revealing of a candidate’s essential personality, as are job-related test assignments. In the end, however, the art of human resource professionals and the hiring manager’s personal insight still are (and will always be) the most effective employee screening tools in existence.

Want more tips for how to screen candidates for cultural fit? Check out our article “6 questions every recruiter should ask to determine cultural fit

Cultural Fit Interview Questions

6 questions every recruiter should ask to determine cultural fit

Savvy hiring managers have shifted their thinking about how to vet prospective candidates: they’ve realized that they have better long-term success when they focus on cultural fit moreso than work history and experience. While many job skills can be taught through on-the-job training, there’s almost nothing a manager or HR person can do to change an employee’s personality, work preferences, and sources of motivation.

Finding a person who is the right match for your company’s culture can be tricky. Check out six cultural interview questions every recruiter should ask to determine whether a job candidate is a fit for your organization.

  1. Describe your ideal work environment and team interactions

Begin by listening to how candidates express their work preferences. Listen carefully for jargon and stilted answers; pre-interview research of your organization may be influencing their answers.

  1. Explain how you interact with colleagues outside of your team, at higher or lower-level positions, or on multi-departmental teams.

When hiring for an open position in a highly collaborative environment, you’ll want to be sure that candidates are comfortable working with nearly any other employee in the organization.

  1. Tell me what your earliest work or volunteer opportunities taught you about career goals and values.

While personalities may be pretty set, how employees approach situations can change over time based upon individual experiences. Knowing what a person has taken away from prior experiences that continues to be impactful as an employee can tell you a lot about how he or she will mesh with your own organization.

  1. What are three things you expect from your work environment in order to be successful in your role?

With this question, you will be trying to gauge several things: level of supervision and collaboration, amount of concrete versus discrete support needs, and how future-thinking tasks like continuing education or development may impact how your candidate expects to work toward success.

  1. What was your best work environment experience? (For entry-level candidates, invite responses related to volunteer experience or school/club experience.)

By describing past environments in which he or she has been successful, a candidate can reveal what circumstances they need to thrive: anything from team structure, to preferred manager style, to office environment. This will give you clear insight into whether the attributes of your organization align with the candidate’s needs.

  1. What was your worst work environment experience and how would you have changed it to be a better experience?

This question may lead to interesting responses. Watch for the difference between complaining about an experience versus lining out problems and suggesting how they may be addressed. This will show you if a potential employee may be willing to work to address any problem areas your company has already identified.

Asking candidates skill-based and behavior-based questions are a great way to understand their capabilities and experience, but cultural interview questions allow you to determine how well an individual will fit in at your organization based on their intrinsic strengths, personality, and preferences. Be sure to integrate these culture questions in each of your interviews if you want to increase the chance of long-term employee engagement and success.

Employee Training and Development

Make employee training a perk, not a chore

Many companies tout their employee training and development programs as major perks of employment, but their staff doesn’t always agree. Any professional education program will come with a price tag, so it’s crucial that your employees truly benefit from these offerings. If you offer programs that don’t meet the needs of your employees, you’ll pull them away from their work and add unnecessary commitments to their plate: a lose-lose situation for both the company and employees. Before you put a program in place, but sure that you’re establishing activities or courses that will genuinely contribute to your employees’ growth.

Do your homework

If you’re a program administrator, you have some essential homework to do before you convene your very first session. You need to find out each staff member’s attitude and experience about being in the role of a student. The right training approach for someone fresh out of graduate school will be very different from that for someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom for decades. It’s also a good idea to ask each staff member how they learn best: Listening to explanations? Watching demonstrations? Role-playing and hands-on experimentation? A well-designed employee survey can give you valuable background information with which to design or select your education program.

Match training to needs

The ideal training programs will advance the interests of your entire business as well as that of individual staff members. Your choice of subject matter for employee development courses should be guided by the actual skill sets needed to meet current on-the-job demands. For instance, are your developers and engineers trained on the most cutting-edge tools and technology?

If you’re providing career advancement opportunities, your training needs to keep pace with your employees. Do you have leadership training in place for new managers? Do you have program or protocol training for employees who move cross functionally?

Set goals and measure achievement

Before starting the program, trainers must develop a list of competencies that students will achieve by the end of the program. These goals usually take the form of sentences stating, “After completing the training, students will be able to _______.” The blank is filled in with a specific skill or element of knowledge. Once these goals are set down, they provide a template for measuring the effectiveness of the training program after it has been completed. In addition to checking on how much your employees have learned, it is also important to ask them to evaluate the overall training experience. Anonymous survey tools allow participants to give constructive criticism of your program and trainer, providing valuable feedback for improving future sessions.

When they are well-designed, employee training and development programs constitute a significant on-the-job perk. Once you’ve committed the resources to making such education available to your staff, it’s important to go the extra mile and ensure the training is delivered in a way that employees will embrace and appreciate.

Benefits of Telecommuting

Should you let your employees go remote? How to weigh the risks and benefits

The benefits of telecommuting are becoming clearer, and this practice has gained popularity so fast that it is now considered a standard perk in some industries. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will primarily work from home. Not only that, but a Global Workplace Analytics survey found that 36 percent of employees would choose a telecommuting option over a pay raise. Would your organization benefit from allowing, or encouraging, some employees to work remotely? There are a few key factors you should consider before you decide to offer this option. And be aware—if you don’t discuss telecommuting proactively, your employees will likely start asking about it soon.

First, consider what types of jobs are best suited for remote work. Obviously anyone dealing with customers, patients, or physical objects can’t telecommute. If you have team members whose effectiveness depends on immediate information exchange, then their roles are not well-suited for telecommuting. However, many information-based jobs can be done from home just as well as they can from a cubicle, if not even better. Many employees report higher levels of productivity at home, when they don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers, ambient noise, and difficult commutes.

Effective telecommuting requires certain basic ingredients, both human and technological. Before being granted the right to work remotely, an employee should demonstrate consistently high performance and commitment to the job. Once they’re home, they’ll have no oversight, so managers will need a good way to track results and keep employees accountable. (Though this is true even for employees who come into the office every day – results speak much louder than butt-in-seat-time).

Additionally, you will have to consider the technology needed to support effective remote workstations. Will your staff members need to share a virtual whiteboard space, have real-time group meetings, or simultaneously mark up documents? Remote work platforms are becoming more sophisticated, but it might take some up-front investment on your part to provide your employees with high-quality software and audio and video equipment.

Telecommuting is somewhat unstructured by nature, so creating a structure is a good idea. Be clear with your employees about what hours you expect them to be available, and through what means of communication. Ask for input from your employees, and engage in conversations about the possible issues that might arise. Once you have the technology and policy in place, begin slowly: Have workers telecommute one or two days a week at first, and then evaluate how things are going at the end of each month. While you may increase this schedule to several days a week, you’ll probably still want to have regular meeting times where everyone comes together in the same place. It’s important that employees continue to feel a sense of belonging and identification with your organization.

Employee engagement is the key to business success. Employees feel more engaged and productive when they are able to effectively balance work and family obligations. In fact, businesses whose workers telecommute at least three times a month are likelier to see a 10 percent higher annual revenue growth. That means that telecommuting doesn’t just benefit your employees—it can benefit your business’ bottom line as well.  When managed well, your team of virtual employees can get the best of both work worlds.

Questions Hiring Managers Should Ask

Failing grade: Why hiring managers lose out when focusing on GPA

How do you evaluate candidates for a job? Is college grade point average (GPA) an important metric that you integrate in your decision? In an era when analytics have become a key part of almost every business decision, GPA seems like an obvious number to rely on. It’s time to realize, however, that not all metrics are created equal. Many human capital experts agree that GPA has little or no predictive value for the performance of a student in their eventual job. In fact, according to Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google, their hiring managers have stopped this approach: “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said.

Because college students typically enter their undergraduate studies as teenagers, there are countless reasons why they might have sub-optimal performance in the classroom. At that age, students are only beginning to navigate the world as independent adults. We’re all aware that some of the deepest life lessons are acquired outside the classroom, and often those lessons involve learning from painful mistakes. If those experiences show up as low grades, then GPA will not attest to the true learning that took place.

If you collect this uninformative data, you won’t be able to avoid relying on it; it’s just human nature to be biased in favor of a candidate with a 3.9 GPA over one with a 3.0. A numerical bias of this kind can prevent you from finding the best candidates, or from comparing applicants on the basis of qualities that really make a difference. For example, one key quality that reliably correlates with workplace success is employee engagement. If your new hires are a good cultural fit for your workplace and their personal ambitions are aligned with the values of your company, they’re more likely to be motivated, productive, and successful.

It’s true that hiring managers should consider many factors when vetting a candidate, but be careful not to cloud your judgement by gathering irrelevant information. The questions hiring managers should ask should focus instead on behavioral interview questions that determine a candidate’s thought processes, problem-solving skills, experiences, motivations, and personality. Your understanding of which candidates are a better fit is, in the end, far more relevant than a number on a transcript from long ago.

Hiring Millennials with Graduate Recruitment

4 things you need to understand before hiring a new college grad

These days, many companies are clamoring for college grads; each year brings a fresh pool of talent for you to tap. The great news about graduates is that if they’re intelligent and adaptable, they can work in almost any sector of your business. But what’s the best way to compete against all the other organizations trying to recruit the same candidates?

Keep in mind that new graduate recruitment and hiring millennials requires a different approach than recruiting seasoned professionals.

Demonstrate your company’s mission and meaning

Most college students want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful and something that has a positive impact on the world. If you want to attract this growth-oriented group, you need to demonstrate how your company makes a difference in your industry, your community, or the world.

If your company offers unique values, culture, or growth opportunities, don’t be afraid to highlight them. Are you performing work that has a big impact on society? Do you have a creative and innovative atmosphere in your workplace? Do you emphasize a collaborative team-based environment? Illustrate why your company is unique and innovative, and you’ll attract innovative young employees.

Understand where grads are coming from

Candidates that have just graduated present a much different recruiting challenge than other candidates. Most of them don’t have experience with the interview process, contract negotiations, and other professional norms.

Understand that recent grads are still a work in progress and that training and guidance are necessary at the start to build on the talents your candidates naturally possess. This will ensure your investment in a recent grad pays off with big dividends down the road.

Use the right recruiting tactics

Millennials have grown up almost entirely in the digital age, which means they are used to constant communication, using digital tools to achieve their goals, and plenty of flexibility. You can showcase your company’s strengths in these areas by using the following tactics:

  • Set up a peer interview to allow a recent grad to connect with other young employees in your organization who can answer their questions.
  • Explain how a grad’s skills will help a company or organization succeed. This will help a millennial candidate gain a clear vision of how they will gel with your company’s culture.
  • Consider offering flexible job hours or the future opportunity for remote work for certain grads that can complete the required tasks on their own schedules.

Retain employees the right way

After you recruit a millennial, it’s important to keep them engaged and satisfied with their job. Providing millennials with regular feedback on their job performance and recognizing them for the work they put in is key. That means routine employee engagement surveys are vital to keeping millennials happy.

It’s also necessary for you to reward millennials that are performing well. Recent grads aren’t the types who will put in years of work to gain seniority, and they will often change companies in pursuit of their ambitions. If you can demonstrate that advancement is based on results, you’ll be in a much better position to retain millennial employees.

Talent Community

What’s a Talent Community?

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

Talent pool, talent network or talent community—semantics shemantics. We in the HR industry appear to be having some difficulties wrapping our heads around all of this. For starters, we can’t seem to agree on the definitions for each of these terms, let alone understand what the core purposes of each are. The so-called ‘industry influencers’ are struggling with this as well. If the thought-leaders and influencers are struggling, how can the industry at large have a clear understanding?

Part of the problem with understanding talent communities, lies in our attempts to define it. While we could sit around and debate the meaning of specific words, concepts and ideas, a simple definition just doesn’t capture the essence of what a talent community really is at its core.

Instead, what if we equate the core purpose of a talent community to the practice of relationship building? Take a marketer for example. Why are successful marketers successful? Is it because they create more appealing advertisements? Is it because they have a way with words? Or is it because they are the loudest on social networks? No, not really, and probably not.

A marketer’s success hinges on their ability to build strong relationships based on value, respect, credibility, honesty, and reciprocity. They have the ability to effectively tap into the emotional core of their target audience. They’re engaging and conversational, always discovering and sharing, and asking questions. Their success is directly correlated to their engagement with their audience.

This is exactly what a talent community is all about. The final desired outcome is a rich community of top talent that loves and promotes the brand.

Yet, to date, the approach that the majority of the HR industry has taken is what I call an “old school sales” approach. The industry has this notion that employers hold all the power, and that simply offering an open position is all the effort needed to attract top talent. With this approach, dialogue between a prospect and the organization is limited and one-sided, not to mention inconsistent. Oh, and it’s terribly boring—for everyone involved. How in the world can this practice differentiate you from your competitors, promote brand awareness, and ultimately build strong relationships? Tactics like these only seek to define a position, not create a community.

Appropriately, the answer here isn’t easy. Simply stating the desired qualities of your ideal employees won’t magically draw them to you. Instead, seek out the best talent you know, and ask them how they build relationships with their target audiences. Then begin to cultivate the type of community that attracts the caliber of colleague you’re looking for.

Like any good community, your talent community is only as good as its members. Dedicate the time and effort to understand yours, and you’ll find your success far surpasses a simple definition.

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

MGM Resorts International and Achievers

MGM Resorts: 2 Takeaways from a Game-Winning People Strategy

What does it take to implement a remarkable employee engagement strategy?

Last week, Achievers had the pleasure of hosting Christopher Henry, VP of Talent and Organizational Development for MGM Resorts International, on the webinar titled, How to Put Employees First to Win Customers. Chris shared with us how MGM’s investment in the development of their people and culture is largely responsible for the brand’s amazing turnaround.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been exposed to MGM’s awesome People Strategy; MGM submitted a stellar application that won them a spot in the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards in 2013. Since last year, MGM has continued to shape and improve its employee engagement plan to adapt to a growing company and workforce.

Christopher highlights four of the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ responsible for the biggest improvements in employee performance and happiness at MGM. Under each dimension, he provides an impressive list of initiatives. Here are three of my favorites:

–          Unified Vision, Mission, and Core Values

  • MGM makes sure all employees are united under a common mission and educated on what MGM stands for. When employees are working towards a common goal, communication and teamwork improve.

–          Effective Communication and 2-Way Feedback

  • All employees have the opportunity to give and receive both real-time and milestone feedback. Managers are then held accountable for proposed changes by the “YOU SAID IT, WE DID IT” initiative.

–          Corporate Mentoring Program

  • Managers and directors are assigned coaches two levels up from them (i.e. Managers paired with VPs) to solidify the mentee’s development of MGM’s seven core leadership competencies.

Selecting just three highlights was difficult – MGM’s People Strategy is pretty high-level. In fact, for an outside company trying to come up with or revamp an employee engagement strategy, MGM’s approach might be a little intimidating. Thus, I think it’s important to consider the following two points:

1.       There really isn’t a “one size fits all” employee engagement strategy.

Every business is different, every company culture is different, and most importantly, the workforce is constantly evolving. MGM’s approach of focusing in on individual elements of employee engagement works very well for them – but a more holistic approach might work better for a smaller business. A great employee engagement strategy is unique to that company and adapts to corporate changes and the always-evolving workforce.

2.      A superior employee engagement strategy takes time – and effort!

Implementing a new people strategy isn’t easy; it tends to be a lengthy process with many steps – researching and evaluating employee satisfaction, analyzing data, devising a strategy, implementing that strategy, evaluating its effectiveness, and making changes as needed.

It’s important to remember that big shifts in engagement rarely happen overnight. But take it from MGM – that extra investment in time and effort WILL be worth it.

Hear it for yourself! Tune in as Chris shares all the specifics on MGM’s game-winning People Strategy on “How to Put Employees First to Win Customers.”

Watch On-Demand

Chris Henry

MGM LOGO R

 

Baby Boomers and Millennials

Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship with Millennials and How to Overcome the Generational Divide

You’ve heard the stereotypes about Millennials: lacking attention span, overdependent on technology, self-centered, ignorant of older generations, entitled – and so on.

Not only are these statements inaccurate, but these myths also stem from the difference between how Millennials work versus how Boomers work. In a recent Forbes article, Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship With Millennials, Eisenberg interviews Stiller Rikleen, executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center For Work & Family and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, about the recent survey she conducted among 1000 Millennials.

Rikleen’s findings were consistent with the outcome of the Class of 2014 survey that ConnectEDU and Achievers partnered on to understand exactly what the next generation of top talent is looking for from their future organizations. The verdict is that many of the stigmas that Boomers associate with Millennials are actually not negative; they are simply representative of an evolving workplace.

Here are a few (seemingly) negative stigmas about Millennials that Stiller Rikleen addresses in her interview, along with tactical takeaways for HR professionals and employers to apply in the workplace to bridge the style gap between Boomers and Millennials:

Millennials demand constant feedback.
Are Millennials looking for more frequent feedback? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. While older generations have perceived this need for constant feedback to only be self-fulfilling for Millennials, constant feedback also drives business results. Yes, Millennials are eager to use frequent feedback to get ahead, but recognizing Millennials for great performance and making recommendations for improvement also keeps them engaged and the business booming.

Boomers are resistant to give feedback.
In the historical workplace, the only appropriate and designated time to give feedback was in an annual performance review. Saying that Boomers are resistant to give feedback doesn’t describe the full picture. In fact, Boomers come from a work generation where structured feedback was the only type of feedback that was delivered to their teams. With Millennials now in the workplace reporting to Boomers, Boomers should be conscious to share timely feedback with their team members. This can occur in one-on-one meeting, by embracing a “coachable moment,” or even during a quick coffee break in the kitchen. Feedback drives better results for employees, managers, and the company overall.

There is a disconnect between what Millennials value and what Boomers think they value.
In the traditional workplace, it was common for employees to stay with companies for their entire careers and get recognized and rewarded for their length of tenure. But in the modern workplace, new employees will work with many different companies and want to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions, regardless of how long they’ve been there. Instead of recognizing Millennials with the predetermined rewards Boomers have been accustomed to, give Millennials the freedom to set goals and choose their own rewards for big achievements. Then, use day-to-day recognitions for the wins in between.

Learn more about what the Class of 2014 wants from their future employers and how your business can bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials.

Download our Class of 2014 whitepaper.

Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent

 

Blog post originally written by Stephanie White, edited and published by Julia Bersin.

Harvard Business Review reveals the bright side to negative feedback

industry_headlinesPositive feedback and recognition clearly amplify key behaviors that drive results. But what happens when you are faced with employee behavior that misses the mark? With talent scarcity on the rise, your organization cannot afford to replace all the underperformers and rehire, retrain, and recover from loss of revenue. Instead, you should help these employees reach their full potential and maximize your investment.

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[Webinar recap] How to unlock the key to your employees’ success

webinarsToday’s fast-paced business world is challenging to navigate, but we can all agree on one thing: employee turnover is unfavorable. Rehiring, retraining, and recovering from loss of revenue is not optimal for HR or your company’s bottom line.

First of all, employees don’t leave companies—they leave managers. In fact, 40 percent of disengaged employees said they were likely to leave their employer in the next two years, compared to only 18 percent of highly engaged respondents.

Most importantly, highly engaged employees are less likely to leave their employer than disengaged employees because leadership is the primary driver of engagement. Best-in-class companies require strong talent, but high-performing leaders are the catalysts to driving engagement and inspiring brilliant employee performance.

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[Webinar] How to secure executive buy-in for recognition programs

employee_recognitionWhen it comes to implementing recognition programs that positively impact business results, although there are multiple decision makers, the most important work within the C-suite.  In order to get your recognition program off the ground, you must secure executive buy-in by communicating the business benefits in language your C-suite understands. How do you translate “employee engagement” to increased shareholder return and profitability? We’ve got the perfect place to start.

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[Webinar] Leverage high performing leaders to drive your employees’ success

webinarsDid you know that 19 million Americans plan to leave their jobs in 2013?

According to World at Work, if an employee is dissatisfied with his/her manager, there is an 80 percent chance he/she is disengaged. This puts a lot of pressure on your management team, since disengagement causes misalignment and mediocre performance among employees, on top of increasing turnover.

More importantly, engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organization1.

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Six tips to create star teams out of star players [UPDATED]

webinarsThe 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the “Dream Team”, was described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled. Essentially, the team took home the gold medal because they stood together for an all-important common goal: to represent the United States and perform as one team—not as individual players. The secret was behind recognizing team performance and aligning star players to one goal.

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Career development: Tips to leverage your employee talent pool

Dear A Advisor,

I’ve been with my company for over a year and I’d like to advance my career. I think my company is a great place to work and I would love to grow within the company, but I’m frustrated that my career progression is undefined.

I would like to understand how to advance my career so that I can be with my company long term. What’s the best way to bring this up to my leader?

Thanks for your help!

Let’s Stick Together

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Employee value propositions: Actions speak louder than words

Hi A-Advisor,

My company promotes its professional development opportunities and strong employee-manager relationships, among other employee value propositions. Most of the employees are in good spirits and the company is doing well; however, I have noticed a lack of employee engagement surrounding these values. My company sufficiently promotes employee value propositions for recruitment purposes, but I feel like these important values can sometimes lack in the day-to-day operations. How can my company avoid false advertising and ensure that employee value propositions are lived throughout the organization?

Thanks for your help,

Action-Seeker

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2012 HR predictions

Guest post written by: China Gorman
chinagorman.com/about/

I’m not big on predictions.  I’m big on surveying the environment, looking at the data, and then figuring out what needs to be done and doing it.

But it’s that time of year.  Predictions are everywhere.  Want to know what venture capitalists think is looming large in 2012?  Read this.  How about the top 10 issues for small businesses?  Read this.  Or how about 5 big tech predictions for 2012?  Read this.

In the human capital management world, Josh Bersin has given us the best list of predictions for 2012, found here. And there are countless others.  Interesting reading, all.  I especially appreciate Josh’s take on 2012.  It’s based on extensive Bersin & Associates’ research and analysis.

But all of these lists talk about the development of or changes in market or organizational dynamics.  They’re market survey.  They don’t really tell the reader what to do about the developments.  That’s why I don’t like annual predictions.  They always seem very Chicken Littleish to me.

Here’s what’s happening in the HR environment that worries me most for HR professionals:  the increasing number of deals and the increasing flow of investment money into the HCM space.  Well, it’s not the deals and the money that concerns me, it’s who the buyers are and where the money is coming from.

The trend is that large tech players not already in the HCM space are evaluating the talent management trends and seeing the need for solutions that they currently don’t offer.  There’s gold in them there HR hills.  So they make acquisitions to enter the space.   Organizations like SAP and SalesForce have recently done this.  They get both solutions and talent in the deals.  Good for them.

This tells me that everyone – not just HR professionals – is convinced that the people management issues in organizations are only going to get bigger, more concerning, more critical.  That means everyone will be focused on the talent pipeline, on engagement, on performance management, on education, on the looming demographic shifts, etc.  These are all HR issues, right?

But here’s my concern.  SAP and SalesForce – just like Oracle before them – are probably already doing business in your organization.  Now that they have these dynamic HCM solutions, who will they call to get your organization’s business?  You in HR?  Or their established customers in Finance, or IT, or Sales?  Is HR going to get cut out of the decision making process?

Will you wake up one morning and find that your head of sales has added performance management to her SalesForce annual contract and now needs your help in implementation?  Will you get a call from IT after it’s added recruiting, goal setting and learning modules to its SAP contract?  Or will they involve you in the process?

HR leaders and departments already working strategically with their counterparts in other functions to collaboratively provide solutions to the people management issues of the organization have nothing to fear.  But if the continued lament about board room furniture is an accurate measure, many HR professionals may have something to fear.  My concern is that they won’t see this coming – in 2012 or ever.

HR leaders and departments working in silos, pushing programs and solutions out in isolation may just find that they’re increasingly left out of the loop as their HCM solution providers are integrated into large ERP providers.

So here’s my suggestion – not prediction – for HR in 2012:  pay attention to what’s happening with M&A activity in the HCM space.  Know your own vendors – in the HR space as well as the Finance, IT and Sales space.  Understand the impact of who’s investing in whom and who’s buying whom.  And work on your relationships with the head of IT, the head of Finance and the head of Sales.  They’ll be far more involved in HCM solutions procurement processes than ever before.