HIRING in the New World of Work

Written by Jeannette L. Seibly & John W. Howard, PhD

As businesses move into the New World of Work, the challenge has been–and continues to be–our hiring practices!  With the economy finally moving forward and all four generations of workers in the workplace at the same time, it’s imperative that your hiring systems and tools be updated, and represent the best practices available.

Unfortunately, many still endorse some of our old stereotypes about age and work. Consider these stereotypes:

  • Younger workers have more energy than older workers!  (Energy in the workplace has been measured across a broad sample of the workforce, and turns out to be a stable characteristic of individuals, and independent of age.)
  • Older workers are more prone to take time-off, perhaps due to personal, medical or other needs.  (Again, not true – studies have shown just the opposite to be true. Older workers are less prone to take time off, for whatever reasons!)
  • Older workers can’t or won’t learn new skills. (Those over 50 are proving their ability to learn new skills by becoming the fastest growing group of Internet users!)

It’s time to transform our old thought processes and discard some of these conscious and unconscious myths.  Remember, neither conscious nor unconscious discrimination is legally defensible!

Myth #1:           We can hire anyone to do anything.

Perhaps because of our egalitarian underpinnings, we believe in the illusion that we can coach, train and motivate anyone to do anything (despite ample and personal experience to the contrary). Before investing in training, it’s wise to measure and understand whether your candidate for training—including candidates for a new job—has what the astronauts called, “The right stuff.”

Try as you might, train as hard as you know how—you will not succeed in teaching pigs to fly; they simply lack the “right stuff” (namely, wings!)  No matter how motivated the trainer and the pigs, eventually such an effort will just irritate all concerned.

Myth #2:           I’ve always relied on my gut.

While using your “gut” or “intuition” can feel like the right thing to do, it’s far from statistically accurate, and not legally defensible.  Ultimately, our gut feelings are based upon past experiences; we may be trying not to hire the same (unsuitable) person we did before, or trying find someone as great as the person that just left for a better job. Unfortunately, the evidence is compelling that our intuition doesn’t do a very good job of it. People are like icebergs: You only see the tip, the part they wish to show.  You can’t see the 75% that is covered up that will make or break their success in our business.

We rely on our intuition to evaluate interviews, and then base the hiring decision on that evaluation. A study at the University of Michigan concluded that interviews only improved your chances of making a good hire by 2%!

Myth #3:          We simply hire and fire until we find the “right one.”

In the meantime, the other “right” ones have left!   The cost of finding great talent has gone up, quality and customer relations have declined, and your bottom line has been severely impacted!  It’s time to great real about finding the right person for the right job, and help your company accelerate its growth. A detailed analysis of a motel’s operations in a mid-sized American city demonstrated that a “wrong’ hire cost the company $7,200 from the bottom line.

Myth #4:          Any assessment tool will do.

Why don’t more of us use scientific assessments to improve our hiring (and reduce failures and turnover)? Part of the answer lies in lack of education on what is, and how to use, qualified scientific assessment tools.  While the Department of Labor’s recommendations are clear regarding pre-employment tests and tools, many employers disregard common sense and rely upon assessments that don’t comply with employment laws. These compound your risks, rather than reducing them.

While part of our reluctance lies in spending any money to improve our antiquated hiring processes (after all, “Bad hiring decisions” almost never appears as a line item on an accounting document). We argue it will take too much time and energy “to make any changes right now.”  When you recognize that the costs of hiring mistakes are killing you, that you can change course, and that the rewards are well worth the trouble, you’ll change.  Will you change, though, in time to save your company’s opportunities to enjoy great talent, bottom line, customers and reputation in the marketplace?

Myth #5:          We’re already doing the best we can.

 Part of the problem of poor hiring lies with inadequate tools and systems: One comprehensive study of the hiring process indicated that, if an interview is your only tool, you have only a 14% chance of making a good hire. Add good reference checking (and we all know how difficult that can be), it may raise your success ratio to 26%. If your goal is to beat one out of four odds, you need better tools!

Fortunately, the science of assessments has produced increasingly useful tools to add to the art of hiring. While no assessment, or even a combination of assessments, guarantees success, the same study showed that use of personality, abilities, interests, and job matching measures can raise your success rate to 75% or better. Equally important, valid assessment tools in all of those areas can be applied for well below 1% of the projected cost of a bad hire.

Also, using on-line applicant tracking systems not only turns your hiring process “green”, it expands your applicant pool (making it easier to find the right candidates), saves overworked HR people a great deal of time and energy, and helps avoid hiring someone who looks and talks a great game, but can’t play it to win for your business.

© Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, 2009

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo — your partner in developing work and career strategies for selection, results and growth, We improve your bottom line!   Contact SeibCo, LLC @ 303-660-6388, OR JLSeibly@comcast.net  Jeannette is also the author of “Hiring Amazing Employees.”

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers. He may be reached at 435.654-5342, OR JWH@prol.ws

HIRING MYTHS — What you don’t know can cost you!

The challenge and cost of a hiring mistake is one of the most-discussed, most frustrating, and most misunderstood problems that our businesses can face.

If you do not know what a single hiring mistake is costing you, take the annual salary for the position and multiply by 2.5.  This number represents productivity loss, recruiting and hiring cost, training cost, liability, unemployment, and the other 101 hidden costs that we usually try not to think of, or may be aware of, when we lose an employee.   

Hiring mistakes often begin with our believing in “hiring truths” only to find that in reality they are “hiring myths!”   When we hire someone who does not fit the job, we have already begun an almost inevitable course that will end with failure—and another hiring casualty.

Myth #1:        We can hire anyone to do anything.

We believe in the illusion that we can coach, train and motivate anyone to do anything.  Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.  People come into our companies with their own “version” of how to do something and whether or not they will.  Sometimes we can train them in “our” way; many times we can provide surface training.  It’s what’s underneath (a.k.a. core behaviors, thinking styles and occupational interests) that can keep them from doing the job as it needs to be done.

Myth #2:        I’ve always relied on my gut.

While using your “gut” or “intuition” can provide insight, it’s far from a perfect science.  Usually, our gut feelings are based upon past experiences; we’re trying not to hire the same (unsuitable) person we did before, or find someone as great as the person that just left for a better job.  People are like ice bergs: You only see the tip, the part they wish to show us.  However, we miss the 75% that is covered up that will make or break their success in our business.

Myth #3:        We simply hire and fire until we find the “right one.”

In the meantime, the other “right” ones have left!   The cost of personnel has gone up, quality and customer relations have declined, and your bottom line has been severely impacted! 

Myth #4:        Any assessment tool will do.

Why don’t more of us use assessments to improve our hiring (and lower turnover)? Part of the answer lies in lack of education on the topic—not many of us have even attended a single seminar on use of scientific assessment tools. Part lies in reluctance to spend any money on new processes. Part of it, frankly, is the already overwhelming load we place on the people who are doing the hiring—they are untrained.

Fortunately, the science of assessments has produced increasingly useful and valid tools. While no assessment, or even a combination of assessments, guarantees success, the same study showed that use of personality, abilities, interests, and job matching measures can raise your success rate to 75% or better.

© Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, 2006

 Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo — your partner in developing work and career strategies for selection, results and growth, We improve your bottom line!   JLSeibly@comcast.net 

John W Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers.  jwh@prol.ws

EMPLOYEES ARE OUR GREATEST ASSETS

OR?  Are they?  As business owners we continually hope for a perfect world where all employees have integrity, are loyal and fit perfectly into any role the company requires.

Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world.  People are unique and bring with them varying experiences, backgrounds, education and other credentials.  They also bring their own set of learning abilities, interests, and personalities!

Do we intentionally hire people who are not assets in our business?  NO!  Then how do they get hired?

We have relied on traditional hiring practices as a means of filling jobs with productive people that can cost upward to 5 times a person’s salary.

Did you know…

           …63% of all hiring decisions are made in the first 4.3 minutes of an interview?

           …Over 50% of all the resumes have false or misleading information on them?

 …to determine technical competency and interpersonal skills, we rely on interview questions such as: “What book(s) have you read recently?”  “What famous person would you like to go out to lunch with and why?”

…business owners spend more time purchasing a $35,000 piece of equipment than hiring someone at a salary level of $35,000?

How do we stop the insanity of continuing to use the same or similar counter-productive methods while expecting different results?

First and foremost, we need to get ourselves out of the way.

The problem is that we think we know enough.  After all, we have worked hard and are successful.  We believe anyone with enough drive and savvy can do what we do.  Many of us, in our efforts to be fair, expend our energies on training or coaching people to change, to fit the job.  We even try paying people more money to be productive and effective.

A better return on investment would be to discover smarter ways to screen, interview, assess, and make the right selection in the first place.   We’ve used the excuse that we’re doing all we can do legally!  However, there are a lot of gray areas in the hiring process that can legally work!

Second.  When we are hiring people, we need to be clear as to our own strengths and weaknesses.

When we hire people to do marketing, sales, and/or servicing of our clients, there is a risk that they may form stronger relationships with our clients than out company has formed. Problems may occur when this employee leaves. 

Be clear and specific about what you do best or dislike doing.  Stay in contact with your clients and/or prospects in a manner that supports them and your employees while sending a message that you care.  Having Non-Compete Agreements may help but too often they provide a false sense of security. 

Third.  Take the time to determine exactly what you need. 

Be open to restructuring or creating a job that will support your vision and mission of the company.  You may find people who have skills that can support your company, but they may not fit the traditional definition for the particular job you were looking to fill.

Fourth.  Establish a consistent procedure, and then follow it regardless of the person! 

The Director of Worldwide Security for a Fortune 500 company once said, “If the company has followed all their own written procedures, by the time final clearance for hiring is issued, there’s a .001 chance of finding out something that people didn’t already know!”

Many companies, in the hiring process, become attached to a person with whom they “connect.”  They lose their perspective when they do not follow their own policies and want to solely follow their intuition.

When we follow a well-defined selection process, we discover more about the person and they learn about us.  We are open to gathering more information by listening to others’ input (e.g., our employees, partners, customers, etc.).  We realize that there are times when our sole instincts are not the best guide.

If she or he is the right person, they will appreciate the time you have invested in determining whether or not they fit the company and job.   That starts the process of developing loyalty.

Fifth.  Be professional. 

Develop interview questions based on finding out “Can the person do the job?”  “Will the person do the job?”  “Does the person fit within this company?” 

Focus on what experience, education and background they have.  What skills can they bring that will resolve problems and issues we are experiencing in our company, industry, and/or profession?  Will they support our style of business?  Will they be:  Team-focused?  Highly competitive?  Capable of going with the flow?  Innovative?  Able to follow well established procedures?

Conduct reference checks, employment verifications, background checks, and core-value testing as well as personality and job fit assessment to ensure that your perceptions of the candidate are realistic, not idealistic.

The bottom line question for our business to truly be successful with each employee:  Is this truly the right person, in the right position, to create the right result for my business?

Fitting people into the right job reduces people-problems and provides businesses with people who are productive in jobs they love.  It supports a profitable vision of “employees are our greatest assets.”

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, PhD, 2005

Jeannette L. Seibly, Principal of SeibCo, LLC specializes in straight talk with immediate results and has been particularly successful in coaching and training business owners, their executives and managers, to achieve unprecedented results.   JLSeibly@gmail.com

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers.  jwh@prol.ws

Acclimating New Employees for Success

A new employee’s success has largely to do with how well they adjust to the company and its current workers, ethics, vision, mission and practices. As an employer, you have a responsibility to acclimate your new employees to ensure their and your success. Your current customers, vendors, and employees’ families benefit from your efforts to ensure new employees are well acclimated. When current employees become aware that things are not working, they often blame the company, and morale plummets.
 
 Hiring a person that will later need to be terminated, for any reason, is expensive. Conservatively speaking, the costs for hiring, training, supervising, liability, and all non-tangibles add up to over 38% of an employee’s annual salary. Therefore, it is critical that you set the stage for your new employees (and your company) to win.
 
Doing a great job of interviewing the person will not ensure the new person’s success unless you include an orientation program to acclimate them for success. Your company’s orientation process should clarify what the company does, how it does it, how people work together within the company, and the systems used internally and externally for delivery of products and services. It should include sharing the “social” norms and expectations employees, management and owners have of each other, including work ethic and level of integrity.
 
Orientation Programs

When most people start with a company, they are given lots of manuals and other written material to read and absorb. Unfortunately, most new employees will be unable or unwilling to read and fully understand them. Additionally, many are bored and disengaged in the process from the very beginning, because their primary learning style may not be reading based. Be aware that many company practices are often taken for granted by your current employees and not included in written form, making it difficult for new employees to understand exactly what you want.

The Basics of an Orientation Program

  • Have an orientation program that begins on the new employee’s first day
  • Be sure all paperwork is completed and introductions have been made
  • Set up lunches and/or meetings with key people that will be working with the new employee
  • Have video/DVD and written materials for the person to get “up to speed” on your products and/or services
  • Assign a trainer, mentor, or key person available for questions and clarification
  • Include programs for company etiquette, history, mission, values and communications
  • Review the Employee Handbook with them topic by topic; don’t rely on people reading something new and readily understanding how it works within your company
  • Have them spend time with key people in different departments, learning your company’s systems and how those systems can impact customers, internally and externally
  • Identify an individual for the new employee to ask questions, review how well they are doing, and discuss any problems they have encountered

After Three Months

Provide the employee with written feedback of his/her performance, including both areas that are working well and areas for improvement. For a new supervisor/manager/executive, have the work team participate in a 360-degree feedback program. Remember to keep specific respondent’s names confidential from their comments. Encourage the new supervisor/manager/executive to share specific areas of his/her feedback with the work group to better understand “what’s working” and “what’s not working.” These should also be shared with the mentor and boss to ensure they are on the same page. Establish goals, action plans and weekly/bi-weekly follow-up. Include training and development opportunities, self-study and group programs.

After Six Months

Time for more feedback using the same methodology that you used at the first three-month review. Review the goals you had established at three months and how well (or not) s/he progressed. Remember if the boss of the new person has done a good job, there should be no surprises as to how successful the person was in accomplishing these goals. Re-establish goals or refine the ones s/he is working on. Set up action plans and biweekly follow-up with the boss. Provide new training and development programs for success.

After One Year

Time for more feedback as well as clarity for the next year’s goals. Be sure this is an interactive process that meets the company’s needs as well as the person’s professional development.

Letting Them Go

Keeping a person that does not (or can not) fully handle all of their essential job responsibilities negatively impacts morale, customers, work systems, and your company’s reputation as an employer.

At anytime during this first year, or after, it may become necessary to terminate the person’s employment with your company. Be sure to document, review with your attorney and/or human resources professional, and handle immediately.

If you’ve done a great job of acclimating a new employee for success, everyone wins.

© Jeannette L. Seibly & John W. Howard, 2005

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo — your partner in developing work and career strategies for selection, results and growth, We improve your bottom line!  jlseibly@gmail.com

John W Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers. jwh@prol.ws