Archive Page 2

Can the Candidate Do the Job? Will the Candidate Do the Job?

When interviewing candidates for an open position your job is to find out not only whether they have the required skills and knowledge but also whether they are motivated to perform at a high level.

Questions about knowledge and skills are relatively straightforward.  You might ask (depending on what you are looking for) questions like these:

  • What has been your experience with developing databases? (Technical position)
  • In your last position, how much of your time did you spend directly working with customers? (Sales/customer service)
  • What types of social media do you currently use and for what purpose? (Marketing/Internet)

Questions about motivation require more thought and in some cases a follow-up:

  • Tell me about a time when you went “above and beyond” to get a job done.  What was exceptional about that?
  • Give me an example of when you identified a small problem that needed to be fixed.  Why would it have become a major issue if not addressed?
  • How do you approach working with someone (customer/colleague) who is difficult to work with?

The first motivational question addresses the issue explicitly.  But the others address more subtle aspects of good performance:  courage to speak up, thinking outside the box, and overcoming obstacles.  The outstanding employee will incorporate these qualities into their work, to the benefit of the company.

So if you want to hire great employees, make sure you find out not only if they can but if they will do the job.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

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Beware the “Halo Effect” in Candidate Interviewing

Have you ever interviewed a candidate for a position, offered them the job, and then been very disappointed in their performance?  If so you may have fallen victim to the Halo Effect.

Consider the following scenario: Jane Green is interviewing for an Accountant position reporting to your CFO.  As Jane and the CFO converse, they discover that they graduated one year apart from the same high school, have kids in the same soccer league, and enjoy golf.  The CFO reports that he is very impressed with her credentials and intends to make an offer.

But wait a minute, which credentials are we talking about here?  There is no mention of her experience in analyzing financial statements, creating reports, or account reconciliation which is what the position requires.  There is certainly an element of compatibility when hiring, but only as a secondary criterion.  The CFO focused on their common interests and missed the opportunity to assess whether Jane is qualified and able to meet the requirements of the position.  He may be in for a rude awakening after she has been on the job for a few months.

In any hiring interview, the most critical questions are “Can the candidate do the job?” and “Will the candidate do the job?”  More about how to get answers to these questions in a future article.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440

New Hire Success is not an Accident

Picture the following scenario:

It’s your first day at a new job, and you are very excited to be working at Company X which you identified as a “dream” job.  You make sure you leave early to get to work on time.  You park your car and walk in the door.  You ask the receptionist at the front desk to let your manager know you have arrived.  She looks puzzled and says “But Ms. Green is out on vacation this week – she didn’t tell me she was expecting you.”

She then attempts to locate someone to help you.  No one else from that area has arrived so finally she calls the HR manager.  He arrives, apologizes for the confusion, and takes you up to where your office should be.  It’s an empty space…just a desk and chair, no telephone or computer.

If you were this person, would you still think you had just started your “dream” job?  At the very least, a sliver of doubt would probably creep in.  By the time Ms. Green returns, a whole week will have gone by with no direction, support, or information.

After a candidate has accepted the offer, it is the manager’s job to create the infrastructure to get them off to a great start.  This should include:

  • A designated person (if not you) to greet them on their first day and get them settled.
  • A workspace equipped with all of the tools they need to begin working.
  • And most importantly, a plan to ensure that they know what is expected of them and what resources are available to help them achieve the plan.

As the saying goes, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  Set your new hire up for success by planning for their arrival and integration into your business.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440

Manage the Hiring Process for Win-Win Outcomes

It may seem strange to think of the hiring process as a win-win.  After all, one candidate gets the job (the “winner”) and everyone else doesn’t (the “losers”).  However, if you manage the process well, you can get both a present and future return.  The current return is a great hire.  The future return is the ability to identify additional candidates that might be a good fit for similar positions, or even new ventures that play to their strengths.

But if you don’t manage the hiring process well, you risk losing both present and future return.  I recently chatted with someone who was a finalist for a position as a COO in a medium-sized company.  The company brought him in for the final interview and promised that he would hear back within 24 hours whether or not he had been chosen.  They also asked him to submit his travel expenses to be reimbursed within a week.  Well…six weeks later, after repeated phone calls and e-mails, he has heard nothing and has not been reimbursed for his expenses.

This company has lost in several ways:  if they were to decide at a later date to make an offer, he would most likely turn them down.  Additionally, he is telling his story to others who might have considered the company but now will hesitate to do so.  Bottom line:  treat all applicants with courtesy and follow through on your promises.  If you do, even the person who does not get the job may be more inclined to consider you in the future and recommend you to others.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Why Should I Share Critical Business Information with my Employees?

You’ve worked very hard to build your business and finally your hard work is starting to pay off in terms of income and profit.  But, unless you are a sole proprietor with no employees or contractors, is that success just the result of your work?  What about your employees?  What have they contributed?  And how could you get them to contribute more?

Rather than hiding information about business outcomes, try putting them out there for everyone to see. Here are some ideas:

• Create a display highlighting key results that support your business goals.  Depending on the type of business, this could be total sales dollars by month or quarter,  number of customers acquired, productivity/ number of defects per widget or any other key indicator.  Whatever you choose needs to be easily visible to all employees, so put it where they can see it.

• Incorporate these key indicators into employee communications and challenge them to do better.  For example “Our defect rate last month was X per widget.  In order to keep ahead of our competition, we need to reduce that by 50% over the next 3 months.”

• This is the hard part:  when an employee says “I have an idea that will reduce our defect rate” LISTEN.  Then work with any willing party to assess, refine, and implement the idea.

• Finally, recognize and communicate successes.  Be transparent about the resulting cost and time savings.  If an idea results in significant improvement, perhaps a bonus is in order.  After all, it’s not all about you, right?

Sharing business information for the purpose of improving the business can encourage your employees to think critically and creatively about their contribution.   In so doing, they move beyond the “employee” role into a “partner” role for the benefit of all.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Are Your People Employees or Business Partners?

Does it seem like you are taking on more and more of what you hired people to do?  Are you handing out paychecks and wondering what value you are getting?  If so, you need to help your staff move from an “employee” mentality to a “business partner”  who is engaged in improving the business.

The first step in this process is to step back and look at what you (yes you!) are doing that allows your employees to stop doing things they were hired to do.    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

• Are you a perfectionist for whom nothing is ever good enough so you are the only one who can do the job right?

• Do you always clarify why you are asking an employee to do something and what the expected outcome is?

• Are you quick to correct mistakes but slow to praise when someone goes “above and beyond?”

If any of these apply to you, you will need to modify your behavior before you expect your employees to modify theirs.

The next step is to share business plans and challenges with your employees on a regular basis.  And, ask them for their help in creating solutions to the challenges.  Even if you don’t fully implement a suggestion, the employee knows they have been heard and will be more likely to step up to the plate next time.

The final step is to be transparent about what is costs to run your business and engage employees in a conversation about how they can reduce costs and increase profits.  More about that next time.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440

What Your Employees Can Tell You About Your Business – But You Have to Ask

As a business owner or manager, you have final responsibility for decision-making.  Are you sure that your decisions are based on facts, or are they based on how you see things?  If you want to find out what is really going on in your business, a good place to start is with your customer-facing employees.  Here are some questions to ask:

  • What’s the most difficult customer challenge you’ve dealt with in the past month?  How did you handle it?  Was the customer satisfied with the result?
  • What helps you help customers?  What hinders you from helping customers?
  • What’s the most positive comment you have heard from a customer in the past month?

Now comes the most difficult part – you must listen to the answers without judging them.  If you immediately jump on the employee for not doing what you think they should, they will never again give you any useful information.  Thank them for their honesty and even if you disagree with their perspective, look for the kernel of truth.  And, if you make changes based on what they say, involve them in the process so that in future, they will start alerting you to issues before you ask.  That is a win for everyone in the business.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440