I have had a really, really, really good year so far as an HR consultant. I have not been able to say that since 2007 and 2003 before that. In my opinion, one of the main reasons I have been so busy is because managers are consistently getting the wrong people on the bus (a Jim Collins term for the organization). I suspect it is because they don’t know what they don’t know and they are not putting the time and effort in the beginning of the process to get it right from the get go.
In order to be successful at interviewing and selection, I think it would benefit all managers if they read the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He refers to getting the right “who” (people/employees) on the “bus” (the organization) and making sure the “who” is going the right direction. Going the right direction is the “what” (the specific job) which ultimately means making sure they are doing the right things the right way. He says the first and most important thing is getting the right “who” aboard. You have to do a good job in recruiting and selection, getting the “right” people on the bus first. Then you worry about the what.
One of the main reasons I have been so busy this year is because many companies are just not focusing on the number one thing – they are not doing a good job of recruiting and selecting the right “who.” I don’t think it’s purposeful at all; I think perhaps they just don’t have the right tools in the interviewing toolbox, and in some cases never had them or don’t realize they are missing. Perhaps it’s one of those skills that everyone thinks they can do without any formalized training. Just like everyone thinks they can do HR — everyone thinks they recruit, interview and select.
They are WRONG!
Not everybody understands how to screen, probe, and research the who to make sure they are the right “who” to fit in the job and organization for which they are interviewing. Talent management is really and truly an art to perfect once the basic skills are learned. These skills are not ones that you are born with; you absolutely have to learn the best tips and techniques.
The result of assumimg you “got it when you don’t” is BAD Hires with BAD attitudes!
Here are just a few examples of problems I have been dealing with as a direct result of bad hires (“who’s” that have):
• Become disgruntled employees
• Sabotage the employer
• Do whatever they can to get back at the employer
• Call the attorneys to initiate a lawsuit against the employer and/or coworkers
• Call the federal agencies like the department of labor or EEOC
• Call the state human rights department
The list can go on and all this creates drama and takes a lot of time, energy, and money away from the success of the organization, and quite frankly away from the employees when you consider the bigger picture. The afterthought: “Had the management done a good job in the beginning they might not be in the place they are now – calling consultants, like myself, or an attorney to help bail them out of these kinds of problems.”
Additional skill is required to develop the right behavioral based questions to help more accurately predict the KASO’s needed for the “what.” Are the right questions being asked even once you do have the right who? The “what” interview questions determine prior training for the job and doing the right things the right way. Often interviewers will tend to ask questions around the topic but not specific enough to really determine whether the interviewee knows the job and can perform the job effectively. In some cases the “what” can be taught, and other cases you don’t really have time to train the person. Managers should seek the right training and not assume they have it. The cost of replacement can be up to a year’s worth of salary.
Learning how to effectively find the right ”who” and “what” need a formalized training program. Over the years I have use DDI’s Target Selection Program, which I was trained on early in my career and have used ever since. My training included not only how to use the program as an interviewer, but also how to train others on it. While I have not formally trained anyone using the program, I still feel it is one of the most effective tools available.
There are a number of books by William Byham, Ph.D. that are very good resources for both the interviewer and the interviewee focusing on the targeted selection process. I often recommend The Selection Solution: Solving the Mystery of Matching People to Jobs and Landing the Job You Want: How to Have the Best Job Interview of Your Life. The basis of both is looking at prior experience as a predictor of future success.
I know there are many other techniques available; what I would like to emphasize is there are preventative measures managers can and should take to ensure that they are interviewing the right way. Thus they need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the bad hires they make instead of blaming the employee.
Get the right “who” and then determine if the right who knows the “what” and/or can be trained. You have to know what the “who” and “what” is in the first place to know how to ask for it in the right way. Turnover will go down, retention will go up, replacement costs will go down, and everybody will be happy, happy, happy!
Photo credit iStockphoto
Women of HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?” This is the final post in the series of responses. You can see the other responses here.
Today’s post is about what I would do if I were a CEO for a day. As I sat down to write, I thought to myself, “I am a CEO of my own consulting firm”. However, I immediately realized that I have NOT “only” been a CEO for very long because I am always doing something else in addition to running my own business (currently teaching & ILSHRM). So this post is not just about if I were a CEO for a day at a big name organization like Apple, DOT Foods, or Crayola, it’s about my being a focused CEO – a CEO of a company where I didn’t have to also worry about a second job or a volunteer role within my field. After all, the series description did say to discuss what would we focus on for a day. Specifically, what would we start, stop, or change to improve an organizations productivity, employee engagement, or ability to recruit.
So to begin I would start my day by “walking around” and engaging discussion with the staff. I can’t tell you how many books I have read over the years that suggest management by walking around as a positive management technique that drives results. Most recently I finished a book called “How Full is Your Bucket” which describes a manager who started his business trips to all the organizations sites by researching who had done what at the location he was heading to. The morning before his meetings he would search out those individuals and say “I have been hearing some good talk about you” then proceed to be specific about that person’s performance. This was his way of positively filling the employees bucket which improved performance and engagement.
Next I would research the organization's reputation in the area, on the Internet via social sites, and among employees relative to what it was like to work there. In one day it is certainly not possible to stop everything that could be putting a damper on the possibility of the organization to be considered an employer of cho
ice but I would at a minimum put together a STOP plan to help the organization push forward to improve its ability to recruit. Included would be things they could start or change as well to improve their position among other organizations within the community.
By the afternoon, I would bring the management team in for a 15 minute conversation each to determine who had a positive outlook versus those that might have been considered downers, complainers, or pessimists. This is also an idea from the bucket book. A study was done with couples immediately after their wedding. The researchers talked to them for only 15 minutes and counted how many positive vs. negative things they discussed in that time period. With this little time frame they predicted within 95% accuracy that would stay married after 10 years. If I use this same philosophy I think I could pretty much predict which managers were negatively affecting employee engagement and productivity just by the way they communicate. So the most important thing I could change about the team is to remove the bad apples because even one bad apple can work quickly to sour the others and if I were only going to get a day to make a difference I would want to leave the organization with optimistic, positive thinking, go-getters. People leave their managers not the company.
Finally, before the days end I would meet with the entire organization to share my vision, get them involved, motivated, and encouraged that they have what it takes to move the company to the next level. With a little help from the finance team as we prepared through the day I would share not just the enthusiasm and excitement but the actual numbers to prove the ideas set forth through the day by the positive thinking management team where indeed a reality? As with everything all good things must come to an end.
My day as CEO ends but tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new era for the organization.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Donna Rogers, SPHR is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area. You can find her on Twitter as @DonnaRogersHR.
So, I’m driving home from St. Louis listening to Drive Thru HR, which I usually do on road trips, to catch up on my daily HR news from some incredible HR professionals all over the world.
I hear Lisa Rosendahl, (@lisarosendahl) who I was fortunate to meet last year at HRevolution. On the show, Lisa and William Tincup are talking about credibility and all these memories started popping into my mind, ideas and examples so I thought this is a great topic for my next Women of HR blog post.
The story I thought about occurred in my first couple of years of my HR career.
I was in charge of starting a training department. My initial goals where to hire a training coordinator and a couple of trainers. We had a person from another department with computer experience coming in to provide computer training and she was doing very well performance and training wise. Just for the record, I inherited her and she was not my hire.
She was getting good reviews but there were a few things that started to tick me off, so to speak. Measurable things that reflected poorly on our brand new “start-up” department and the rest of us who worked in the department. The following describes how she presented herself and how I perceived her credibility, NOT good.
I have talked about this story several times but never really sat down and wrote about it.
She repeatedly dressed inappropriately as a trainer and as a representative of the organization in front of 20 to 30 of our 500 employees at any one time. Her “see through” pants were so sheer that you could see whatever kind of underwear she was wearing, thongs and all! She would also come in wearing shirts that showed off her belly button.
This was a 25 to 28 year old woman, so we are not talking about a teenager, but what really topped it off was the office Christmas party attire. And YES I do tell this is a story every time I discuss credibility, or lack thereof, in a business setting.
At our Christmas party that year, she came in late (of course) to make an entrance. I remember looking toward the door as she walked in and what I saw was to be talked about for some time after by everyone there in the office. She had long hair that nearly went down to her bottom and she had it stacked on top of her head in the shape of a Christmas tree with lights and decorations in it. Her earrings were also flashing decorative lights. She was wearing five inch heels, a dress that was extremely short and skin tight. Her dress had almost no back and was cut all the way down to her underwear and everyone stopped and stared.
She was suppose to be a professional in an organization and come Monday morning in the board room the discussion was not what’s going on in the spreadsheets today but, did you all see what so and so was wearing the other night at the Christmas party? From then on, I’m sure her credibility wasn’t that thick because of the clothes she chose to wear to work.
What’s the lesson here?
Credibility goes well beyond your paper credentials. Consider the entire picture and how people perceive you and what you choose to do (or wear).
Photo credit: Unknown
After some recent reflection, I am convinced that my childhood has had a huge impact on how I consider various circumstances thrown my way as an HR professional. I can’t help but wonder how many others feel the same way.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to pick up some books for the ILSHRM Leadership Conference at our treasurer’s office. I got the idea of taking pictures of some of the homes I grew up in because it was on my way. I thought I might use them to share with my kids one day.
While doing so, the idea of writing this blog post for Women of HR popped in my head because the memories from seeing the homes brought back visions of similar employee circumstances I have had to deal with in the workplace. Some of these circumstances impacted the employee and their co-workers’ performance while others would just come in and share to get whatever was bothering them off their chest and back to work they went.
My experience has helped me to be a better problem solver and listener with employees dealing with adversity of any kind.
Just the number of homes I took a picture of, eight not counting the three no longer standing or out of state, tells a story. So many employees deal with instability in their life for a number of reasons. For me, I lived in 11 different homes growing up compared to the stability of my 20-year-old (2 homes) and my 11-year-old (1 home).
How many of our employees bounce from home to home? What impact does that have on their job? Psychologists typically only look at your life between the ages of 0-17 as it relates to the impact the experiences between those years makes on the rest of your life. I have a lot of empathy for instability and so much more that employees go through. For example, as I think back to my childhood, I have a much better understanding for employees dealing with:
- alcohol and drug abuse
- emotional and physical abuse
All of these personal problems have a huge impact on employee performance, attendance, and quality.I think overall my background has helped me be a better more understanding human resources professional. It affects how I handle things and how I communicate with people.
It’s not just what we learn in books or on-the-job that makes us good solid human resources professionals; it’s also what we are made of. Our early beginnings, where we came from and how we grew up has a lot to do with how we work with and influence others on a day-to-day basis. It can have a significant influence on our performance and ability to connect with employees, managers, owners and other relationships related to our work.
In HR, no one situation is anything like the other and that is what makes this profession so exciting to work in. I say be proud of your humble beginnings because all in all it is who you are and who you are is an outstanding professional who can handle whatever situation that is thrown at you.
The following are a few hypothetical (not really) life stories related to human resources, being a woman in what is still in some circles ‘a man’s world’ and organizational behavior.
At the end of each story, I challenge you to put yourself in the position of anyone in this story and comment on whether or not you think the “good ol’ boy” network is a myth or has a touch of reality. There are no right or wrong answers.
A fully qualified female non-commissioned officer applies for a commissioned officer position within a department for which she is the only female. The department sits just outside the main office area of the control tower for a huge contingency of male pilots who currently fly with other male co-pilots due to the aircraft type. Women are not allowed to fly this type of aircraft. The department is made up of 2 long term male non-commissioned officers, 1 male commissioned officer, and 1 female non-commissioned officer who works as an administrative assistant – and also happens to be the applicant.
In the building, friendships are strong, male dominated communications with a tint of sexual harassment are common place, and a layoff of the co-pilots is pending due to the base switching to more modern solo piloted aircraft. The position is filled with a male co-pilot who would have lost his job had this position not been available due to the aircraft switch.
Myth or reality?
A fully qualified female civilian employee has an idea to promote HR related services to members of the organization that will improve efficiency and effectiveness of their operations while generating revenue for her own department. She has the support of her boss and together they pitch the idea to the company attorney to minimize organizational risk and ask for professional advice.
The attorney has been long time college buddies with the CEO and other members of the organization including those on the board of directors. This attorney also has the qualifications to offer the same services for a fee from his company. The idea is not approved by the CEO but later shows up as a service outreach of the company who employees the attorney.
Myth or reality?
A small independent contract offers HR related services to a governmental entity that is managed by a former small town business man who had previously served in a political position before his long tenured private career. The independent contractor develops an idea to cut costs for the client who had previously mentioned not having a budget at all for the services sought. The idea is shut down and the independent contractor is told they are moving in a different direction and a formal proposal would not be necessary. Later, the client announces a contract to be approved that is over twice what the independent contractor was going to charge for the same services they were previously told were moving a different direction.
The winning contract has had many past dealings with the decision makers as well as those around closest to him and in other positions across the state. Come to find out there were several other big players in the bidding process that were much larger and had connections both within that organization as well as within the larger organization.
What did you think? Is the “good ol’ boy” network a myth or is there a touch of reality?
Photo credit iStockPhoto
Recently, I was teaching a 2 day Certified Public Manager session for a group of association members. The session was called Human Resources: Productivity & Quality.
During one of our discussions regarding compliance related issues we covered the process of an HR Audit which included, as one of many tasks, a review of posters that need to be posted at work sites. One participant mentioned a poster that drew quite a stir when it first came out, which I personally was not aware of, pictured here. I asked her to send it to me and we later got into a discussion that this situation reminded me of during my early working years before my HR career.
At 23 years old, just after graduating from ISU with my undergrad in public relations, I obtained my first marketing director position officially after having been doing the job during my internship when two of our marketing directors moved on (all during one semester). Of course at that age, I was all gung-ho about moving up the ladder in the mall management business. So I worked very hard for another two years and was pleasantly surprised with the prospect of promotion. My personal life was really going well because my boyfriend of 5 years (now my husband of 21 years) had just proposed and I accepted.
Unfortunately, my joy took an unexpected turn for the worse when I went to work to share the news with the office.
Much to my surprise my boss (a female mall manager) suggested that I do not share the news with anyone else in the office and especially not her boss, the regional mall manager. Still a bit naive of the ways of work for women, I asked why. She proceeded to tell me that she thought it would hurt my chances of a promotion within the industry because Marketing Directors were expected to travel around the country moving from small to larger malls. The idea of a female Marketing Director being married and possibly planning a family would not go well.
I basically had to hide my engagement (and put the ring in a drawer when I went to work) for 6 months. When I was offered a promotion to a mall position two levels above where I would normally have expected to be, and would have normally accepted, I turned it down because that was not the company I wished to work for any longer.
I had no idea I was being discriminated against (at least not from the same lens I look at the situation now). The bottom line is harassment and discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes. Be aware and try not to get discouraged. Engagement is a time to celebrate!
No, we are not going to talk about the movie “10” or Bo Derek.
My “Perfect 10″ is the last 10 years as a working mom with the most flexible schedule of anyone I know. You see, my son and my company both recently turned 10 years old. I did take three months off after he was born so technically my company is slightly younger than my son and this certainly was not pure coincidence. It was planned coincidence in the name of motherhood.
I’ve been a mother for almost 20 years and if I could do the first 10 years of motherhood over again, I would. If I did the first 10 like I did the last 10, I might be a little closer to my 19 year old daughter. She and I both missed out on so much due to my long, late hours, cross country travel, stress, and inflexible schedule (not to mention the affect it had on my marriage). You can never get back what you give away and, in the first 10 years, I gave away time I could have spent with my daughter and husband.
Let me tell you about us.
My daughter was born three months prior to me starting my career in HR and I worked in HR for about 10 years in corporate America before becoming pregnant with my son. It was a long road to getting pregnant the second time and he came as a big surprise. I found out I was pregnant on April Fool’s Day, just a few months after starting a new job. I somewhat blame the stress of my work for not being able to get pregnant. After several trips to the infertility office, there was no other explanation. My daughter was 5 years old and we gave up trying. We sold all of our baby supplies and bought her a dog. She always wanted a baby sister named Sarah, so that became the dog’s name.
After working 55-60 hours a week for years, I took a job working only 40-45 hours a week and after two months, I was pregnant. My daughter was 9 years old when my son came into the world. While pregnant, I decided to start my own consulting business and stay home with my son for as long as I could.
While the first few years were tough (the business began the same year as the terrorist attacks), it was worth losing half our salary to spend time with my son. Believe me, I now work over 55 hours a week again but this time around it is different. Half of it’s from home and I have time to do all the things a stay at home mother does with their children.
The number one thing a working mother needs is flexibility when it comes to child rearing. Children, even the big ones, like when you’re around. They enjoy having you as room mom, field trip chaperone, and when you have kids in a private school there is not the option of busing, so you have to be the one to take them and pick them up when your spouse has a more demanding schedule.
Looking forward to the next perfect 10!
Photo credit iStock Photo
This is a guest post by Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development and she practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois Area.