Tag Archives: selection

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How smart SMEs save time and money with assessments

Killing the business you love

For every business, the pressure is on to hire the right person the first time! But for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), that pressure is so much stronger. There’s not only the cost factor involved,  but also the social factor of how much influence one person can have, especially in a SME.

Finding the right person takes time

…but using assessments will allow you to make a good decision faster. Using an automated recruitment assessment process as a filter at the beginning of the recruitment process can eliminate the need to read every resume received. Your minimum criteria regarding eligibility can be set with respect to qualifications, prior experience and training, so unsuitable candidates will not proceed to the next level. Instead of reading a large pile of resumes, you only have to consider the shortlist of those who ‘can do’ the position.

Part two of finding the ‘right’ person concerns their suitability to the job. Yes they are capable of doing it, but how will they fit with your organisation? Do they really enjoy  the work they are doing? Will they want to do the job well? Today’s technology by way of assessments, can provide reliable data which measures an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and motivations as they relate to a specific job.

Finding the right assessment for your company

When looking for an assessment to use when making your talent decisions, see if the criteria is met with the following questions:

1. Is the assessment job-related?

2. Can the assessment be validated against job performance research?

3. Is the assessment easy to administer (or can you find someone to administer it for you if you are not inclined to do so yourself)?

4. Are the results easy to understand and interpret (for both you and your employee)?

In an organisation where staff numbers are small, there may not be an experienced interviewer or a person available with the knowledge to Identify that ‘right’ person. A good assessment program will also provide tools such as interview guides relevant to the position and selection criteria upon which decisions will be based.  

But what happens after you’ve identified and hired that right match for your business?

How do you keep them for the long run? If the normal time frame for employee retention is two years, what can you do to avoid the same process again in the not too distant future? As with most businesses, turnover needs to be avoided in an SME as it can create a multitude of problems such as there not being ample staff to handle the workload left by the vacancy.

Again, a good employee assessment program such as Harrison Assessments will be able to identify what is important to your new employee – what engages them, what do they need for their long term development and how they will fit in with your business culture.

When all these benefits are measured, it’s easy to see the return on your initial investment on an employee assessment program. You have the ‘right’ person skill-wise and organisational culture-wise … and you can feel a bit more secure that it’s unlikely you will be repeating the process for that position any time soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

It’s not all about the money

hiring

The recently released Hay Group Australian Salary Movement Index report has some interesting things to say about the basics of finding good staff – and keeping them:

The research reveals that organisations wishing to have higher engagement among employees and lower turnover should focus on getting these five fundamentals right.

1. Confidence – in the organisation and its leadership, providing clear direction ‐ line of sight ‐ and
support

2. Development – ensuring clear pathways for career development and progression are in place and communicated

3. Selection – ensure you are selecting the right people for the right job in order to maximise employee contribution and minimise turnover costs

4. Reward – fair (internal and external) recognition of both monetary and non‐monetary methods,
ensuring it’s a good fit for the organisation

5. Enabling employees – giving people what they need to do a good job, and an environment that is
positive and one that fosters innovation and creativity

How do you apply these basics in your organisation?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top interview secrets of the experts

Have you ever had the experience of employing someone who you “just loved” when you interviewed them, only to face future disappointment when they turned out not to be the person you thought they were?

This is what I call “interview infatuation” and I coined the term because I’ve seen it happen so often I thought it needed a name.

Interview infatuation often happens because recruitment is not your main job it can be daunting task. Even if you have a robust process for recruitment, interviewing candidates can have you feeling anxious and confused.

Part of the problem is that candidates are often a lot better prepared that you. Dozens of websites provide sample interview questions and recommended responses. Your average candidate may also be more motivated than you are to perform well.

How do you shift the balance back to being in your favour?

By putting into practice just a few things that experienced interviewers do as a matter of course:

  1. Prepare
  2. Ask behavioural questions
  3. Be consistent

Most candidates come into interviews well-prepared and you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not equally well-prepared.

A quick scan of the candidate’s resume and drafting a few questions related to it does not count as preparation. Preparing thoroughly involves:

  • Revisiting the requirements for the role, especially the essential (must have) and desirable (can live without) criteria
  • Writing an interview plan that sets out the steps you will go through in the interview, including introductions, questions and closing
  • Studying the resume, specifically looking for gaps, inflated titles and anything else that doesn’t add up.
  • Reviewing any additional information such as pre-employment assessments
  • Choosing a suitable time and location where you will have privacy and not be interrupted.

As part of your preparation, write behavioural questions that are relevant to being successful in this role. Behavioural questions matter because past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. Anyone can guess the correct answer to questions such as “What are your strengths?”

Examples of all-purpose behavioural questions

  • Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult client or co-worker?
  • Can you give me an example of a project you have managed?
  • Was there a time when you were under pressure to deliver an outcome in a tight time frame?

With each of these questions, follow up with more probing:

  • What did you do?
  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What would you do differently if you did it again?

These questions are looking beyond the standard answers the candidate may have prepared. What you’re seeking to understand is not just the good stuff but how they handle situations when things go “pear shaped”. You will also get an insight into their thought processes as they describe what they learnt (or didn’t) from the experience.

When recruiting, you are often comparing candidates with diverse strengths. To do this effectively, it’s recommended that you consistently ask the same questions to all candidates. Naturally, you will ask some different questions as you explore each candidate’s suitability but your basic structure and behavioural question should be the same for everyone. By doing this you will find it much easier to rank candidates according to the essential and desirable criteria for the role.

A simple table of scores for each can help your final decision

One final point that wasn’t on my original list: Don’t feel like you have to do this alone. I always recommend to my clients that they get someone whose judgement they trust to help them interview. Their insight could prove valuable.

Having someone else at the interview may not be feasible for you. In that case, you can still gain help by accessing the many resources available online.

Preparing, incisive questioning and consistency will improve your “hit-rate” at interviews. You may also find it enhances your reputation as an employer.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

“Every Saturday I was a crocodile and on Tuesdays, a clown”

When a client – now working in HR – told me this recently, I was both amused and impressed!

Painter and decorator, accounts clerk, children’s entertainer, office manager, hairdresser, executive assistant…

Could you predict what job title would come next? Would you hire this person to look after the HR needs of your company?

Experienced recruiters will see the potential for success in this work history, including:

  • Flexibility
  • Attention to detail
  • People-orientation
  • Continuous learning
  • Ability to communicate with a wide range of people

Congratulations to all those managers who are willing to look beyond the job titles and appreciate the pattern of preferences that make a career.

If you’ve benefited from someone using their imagination in hiring, please let us know below.

You are not your resume, you are your work. – Seth Godin

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Warning: 13 lies applicants will tell you to get the job

trust

We tell potential employees what we want.  We shouldn’t be surprised if they bend the truth to fit our requirements.

Although slightly ‘tongue in cheek’, the following list is based on actual recruitment experiences in real workplaces.

1. I’m self-motivated

…I applied, didn’t I?

2. I have excellent communication skills

…just don’t read my CV too closely.

3. I have industry experience

…not necessarily in this industry.

4. I love a challenge

…as long as it’s one I choose.

5. I’m very flexible

…so long as I can be out of here by 5.15 every day.

6. I believe in excellent customer service

…if I’m the customer.

7. I’m well organised

…in fact, I can spend all day tidying my desk and sorting my emails.

8. I can juggle priorities

…you’ll notice how I have Facebook and YouTube open at the same time.

9. Money isn’t important to me

…as long you pay me what I think I’m worth.

10. I’m a team player

...oh, you mean at work?

11. I work independently

…as long as I can go around asking everyone else for help.

12. I’m innovative

…just tell me what you want and I’ll Google it for you.

13. I have great interpersonal skills

…but please don’t ask me why I left my last job!

Too cynical? Too harsh?

If you’ve been caught out by any of these statements from a prospective employee, the good news is that there are independent ways to assess every one of  them – if you’d rather get the full picture.

Of course, you may agree or disagree!  I look forward to reading your comments.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three things you should know about every new employee

You’ve read the CV’s, interviewed and done reference checks. Could you have missed something?

Assuming your new employee has the qualifications, experience, skills and attitudes required to do the job, there are three basic things every boss needs to know about their latest hire:

1.  How long are they likely to stick around?

Your needs will vary with the job, but the cost of hiring and training someone new usually means you would like them to stay working for you for a reasonable time.

2.  How well do they respond to feedback?

Some people strive to be the best they can while others are quite happy the way they are. What if you hired someone who sees no reason to change and views feedback as criticism?

3.  Are they motivated to put in effort commensurate with the rewards they expect?

If you are paying someone well, you will be expecting them to work at a certain level. It’s useful to know if they are likely to possess the self-motivation required.

These are just 3 of the 156 work-related traits we measure using Harrison Assessments to help you predict performance. 

We call these traits:

1.  Wants Stable Career

The desire for long-term or permanent employment.

2.  Receives Correction

The tendency to accept guidance intended to improve performance.

3.  Pay Minus Motivation

The tendency to have strong desire for money while lacking the personal drive necessary to earn it.

Would it make a difference to you to know these things before you bring someone on board?  Contact us to find out more.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Case Study: Online Recruiting

The first time I met Frank Stillone, managing director of The Silent Partner, he was looking for a ‘robust’ recruitment process.  

Finding the right people was difficult.  Most didn’t live up to what was required for the role.  Mistakes and poor performance from his staff were costing him business.  He needed a better way of finding the right person who would be an excellent fit.  Together we were able to develop a process that delivered the results Frank wanted to achieve.

Background

The Silent Partner, in Sydney, is a provider of virtual office, calendar management and help desk solutions.  The growth of the business requires regular recruitment of additional virtual receptionists to deliver these services.  Frank had previously done his own recruitment, with mixed results.

Designing the job requirements

Using his knowledge of what makes someone successful in the virtual receptionist role, Frank and I carefully selected the essential and desirable criteria, along with those characteristics he would prefer to avoid.

For each of the eligibility criteria – skills, qualifications, experience – points were allocated to each possible answer, depending on the job requirements.  For example, some of the company’s clients are medical specialists and allied health professionals, so bonus points were awarded for experience as a medical receptionist.

For the suitability criteria – personality, motivation, work preferences, interests – we were able to add relevant traits and rate them in terms of their importance and frequency of use on the job.

Setting up the campaign

Once the criteria were in place, Frank was ready to start taking applications.  He placed an advertisement on an online job board with a link back to The Silent Partner’s ‘Jobs’ page.  The advertisement also stated that the only way to apply was by following this link.

When an applicant reached the web page, they could see the job description with an ‘apply now’ button at the bottom.  By clicking on this button, the applicant would arrive at the beginning of the online application form.

The application process

Once they reached the application form, applicants were first presented with details of the job.  If they chose to proceed with an application, they completed their name and contact details before proceeding to the first part of the online questionnaire (eligibility).

Answering the eligibility questions took only a few minutes.  The applicant was then asked to upload their CV and cover letter.  Depending on their score in the first section, they were asked to proceed to the second part of the questionnaire (suitability).  Completing this section takes about 20 minutes.

The results

A total of 269 people viewed the online application form.  Of these, 69 decided not to apply after viewing the job description while a further 27 didn’t proceed after entering their personal details, therefore self-selecting themselves out of the process.

This left 173 applicants who completed the eligibility questions and/or resume upload, including 132 who went on to complete the suitability questionnaire.

The system automatically short-listed 24 candidates with scores over the pre-determined cut-off.  The CVs of the top 15 short-listed candidates were reviewed to decide who would proceed to preliminary structured telephone interviews.

Frank interviewed five people in the preliminary round.  Two candidates were selected for more detailed interviews and both were offered – and accepted – a virtual receptionist position.

The benefits

The Silent Partner’s recruitment process had rewards in terms of both efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficient

  • Frank didn’t have to receive and respond to 269 emailed applications, saving him days of unproductive work.
  • Once set up, the process was automatic and did not require management or input until Frank was ready to close the campaign and interview.
  • Frank only had to read the resumes of short-listed candidates.
  • Telephone interviews were structured and effective in further screening of candidates.
  • Candidates could be notified of their progress directly from the recruitment system.

Effective

  • Frank was able to monitor the campaign via a dedicated dashboard.
  • By deciding in advance what he did and didn’t want, all applicants were objectively and automatically screened.
  • Frank estimated the new process took less than 20% of the time he’s devoted to similar recruitment exercises in the past, representing a significant cost saving to the business.
  • All applications were checked for consistency by the system, flagging applicants who may not have been honest in their answers to the questionnaire.
  • Only those candidates who met pre-set criteria were considered for the role.

Frank says:  At the end of the day, your company is just a collection of people doing stuff and whether that company is Apple or Merv’s Mowing Services it doesn’t really matter.  If you want to be successful you need to get the right people doing things right.  As small business owners the same applies to us:  We can be experts at many things but we cannot be an expert in everything. That’s why we need to bring in someone with specialised knowledge and tools to help us find the talent we need to grow.

Download the case study

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The time to ‘trust your gut’ is lunchtime…

…not when you’re hiring a new staff member!

Managers very often rely on their intuition or ‘gut feel’ when making staffing decisions.  In my experience, it’s amazing how often we hear  “it just felt right”, “she seems like a good fit” or “I feel very comfortable with him”.  There’s a lot of confidence in intuition.

When it turns out the person they hired is just not up to the job, have you ever heard a manager say “I guess my intuition isn’t reliable”?

You’re more likely to hear “he did a great job of selling himself at the interview” or “her referees obviously exaggerated her ability”.

For managers who rely on outdated and ineffective recruitment procedures, the wrong decision is usually someone else’s fault – often the new employee’s.

When was the last time you heard a manager use “it just felt right” as justification for an equipment or software purchase?  Of course, few would.  Yet many are prepared to take a gamble on their gut feeling when it comes to the major investment of hiring a new staff member.

A recent survey by the recruiter, Hudson, found that 44% of new hires were described by their managers as ‘not good’*.

Would a 44% failure rate be acceptable in any other area of their businesses?

The managers who regard recruitment as more art than science are ignoring the research and resources available today that enable much better predictions of employee performance.  For example

1. Past experience is a poor indicator of a candidate’s ability to perform well in a new role;
2. Motivation and cultural fit are the best indicators of future performance but only 6% of hiring managers assess these objectively*;
3. Matching the right person to the right job by measuring their ‘fit’ to the role is easy and inexpensive – especially when compared to making the wrong decision.

Next time you see someone recruiting without adding appropriate rigour to the process, suggest they just toss a coin instead.  The odds of getting a good employee won’t be much worse than 56%  – and it’s a lot less trouble!

*Hudson 20:20 Series:  New Generation Recruitment: Battle Strategies For the Talent War at http://au.hudson.com/2020/node.asp?kwd=latest-2020-whitepaper  Read more here: http://www.afr.com/p/national/work_space/why_you_can_get_good_staff_stP5BDsy9SJ2C1F9NqjsOO

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

More places to find our articles

As well as writing this blog, did you know I also write for other websites, e-zines and blogs?

You will find my writing on the Leading Minds Academy, Dot Com Women, Planner Lounge and HR Daily Community websites, with different and relevant articles.

Here are links to recent articles on those sites:

Are you an expert yet? on leadingmindsacademy.com

Are you a creature of habit?  on dotcomwomen.com.au

Ideal traits of paraplanners and financial advisers on plannerlounge.com.au

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall on community.hrdaily.com.au

It’s possible your clients, managers or members could also use this information.

Please get in touch if you’d like to add this sort of content to your own publications, online or in print.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Critical skill shortage 5: Technical skills

Welcome to the final article in this series based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles on this topic.

All the skills we looked at previously in this series – communication, problem solving and decision making, strategic thinking and people management – are of limited value to a business if they are not accompanied by the requisite technical knowledge.

There is a growing demand for professionals who possess relevant and transferrable technical skills.

This current skills shortage will become critical due to the following factors:

  • Baby Boomers are retiring, taking critical skills and knowledge with them,
  • Products and services offered to clients are growing in numbers and complexity and
  • Customers are expecting more sophisiticated advice and more individualised services.

The smart organisations in the sector are building their talent base in all the skill areas we’ve examined in this series.

According to the Kelly study, they are attracting and retaining mid to senior level talent with the right skills in the following ways:

  • Attractive and competitive pay and benefits (83% of respondents)
  • Talent and career development training (71%)
  • Internal promotion (62%)
  • Work life balance initiatives (42%)
  • Hiring from other organisations (25%)
  • Attracting younger workers (17%)
  • Attracting older and more experienced workers (17%)
  • Increased reliance on foreign talent (9%)
  • Delayed retirement (8%)
  • Temporary and contract work arrangements (7%)

Most organisations will find that some of these approaches are less sustainable than others.

What’s your talent attraction and retention strategy?  How well is it going to serve you in the longer term?

As always, I’d love to know what you think.  Please add your comments below.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall

The Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study uncovered a serious skills  shortage in the Banking and Finance Sector in the Asia Pacific region.

The five skills most in demand are also those considered most critical for mid to senior level managers across all industries.

Of all organisations surveyed,  88% said the shortage of staff with the right skills had a negative impact on their ability to serve clients.

As the FOFA reforms come into play for those readers giving financial advice, we will begin to see the real impact of this skill shortfall in terms of client attraction and retention.

If you’re an employer, you will find it increasingly difficult to identify and hire people with these critical skills.

The top 5 critical skills in shortage are:

1.  Communication including the critical abilities to

  • build long-term, successful, professional relationships with clients, in addition to selling a product or service and
  • communicate complex financial concepts to a non-finance audience in a simple and tactful way.

2.  Problem solving and decision making required for

  • complying with high levels of regulation and
  • dealing with environmental uncertainties.

3.  Strategic thinking to

  • assess multiple external factors and
  • develop and evaluate options.

4.  People Management with the ability to

  • lead, motivate and inspire and
  • ensure teams have the right balance of skills.

5.  Technical skills

  • relevant, up to date and transferrable knowledge and
  • an ability to deal with more sophisticated products and markets.

What has been your experience?  Have you suffered a skills shortage crisis?  Have you found effective ways of dealing with the skills shortage?  What are your plans for the future?  Please share your thoughts below.

 

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Is ignorance really bliss?

“When ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” – Thomas Gray, 1742.

We often hear this quote, but would living by it be a useful strategy?

In business and at work, as in other areas of life, we may experience:

1. Blissful ignorance – not knowing you don’t know.  Often comes before a crisis!

2. Ignorance by choice – you know that you don’t know, but you like it that way!  Examples:  Someone who chooses not to listen to or watch news reports, a manager who doesn’t ask for staff feedback, businesses  who don’t survey their clients.

3. Wilful ignorance – you actually know the facts (unlike 1 and 2 above) but you choose to act as if you don’t know.  Examples:  Drivers who ignore road rules, businesses that survey staff and/or clients then don’t act on the feedback.

Ignorance can be risky, threatening the viability of business and your own peace of mind. Ignorance can cost you opportunities, money and relationships.

What are you ignoring right now?

Here are some examples of how clients have used Balance at Work’s  services to identify their bline spots:

  • Pre-employment assessments and interviewing of candidates
  • Staff feedback interviews and online surveys
  • Team analysis and coaching
  • Professional development
  • Strategic planning days
  • Executive coaching
  • Career counselling
  • Exit interviews

Can we help you?

PS.  Last week, we asked for your feedback on our weekly articles.  This is your chance to tell us what you think, let us know what we could improve and make suggestions for future topics.  A big ‘thank you’ to all those readers who have already given us two minutes to complete our online survey.  We are very grateful to you for sharing your thoughts!

Take the survey now – it will close on Friday 4 February 2011.

We look forward to your feedback!