Transform from the Start

TransformationAs you know, I work with clients who are going through some type of transformation — changing their business strategy, operating model, organization structure, etc. Whatever the change, you have to start at the beginning. Sounds obvious, right? The first most critical step of any change is having a compelling, clear vision. That’s not the beginning I’m talking about today. The beginning that I’m talking about is the beginning of the talent life cycle — how you are hiring. Hiring for the future needs to be a well thought out and executed part of transformation.

In my experience, purposeful hiring is one of the most neglected business processes in many organizations. There is usually a process for posting resumes and identifying candidates. After that, it becomes haphazard. A few people meet the candidate. The hiring manager and HR (if it is involved) get some feedback. Someone is hired and you hope it works out.

Powerful, purposeful hiring processes include:

  • Identifying the critical success factors for the role — focusing on the future without neglecting the now
  • Putting together a team that can effectively assess the candidate against those success factors
  • Purposefully focusing each interview
  • Determining which questions will help you assess the candidate against the success factors. These include not just technical or professional skills but also cultural fit.
  • Debriefing the results of the interviews in a structured way.
  • Having a decision process that will allow you to rapidly move ahead.

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Looking to Hire? Make the Sale.

top talentI was asked recently about how to put your company’s best foot forward when hiring in a competitive market. The first thing to think about is why someone would want to work for you.

Recruiting and hiring is a sales process. We usually think that it’s the candidate doing the selling. You and your company need to be selling, too. The best candidates have options so you have to show them why your opportunity is a great one. Show your candidates the WIIFM — what’s in it for me.

Position yourself as a top choice by having the answers to these frequent questions from top performers. They may not always ask them but they are thinking about them.

  • Why would someone want to work here? If you can’t answer this question, how can your possibly attract great people?
  • What’s different about your organization versus where the person is now? How does this opportunity give him more of what he’s looking for and less of what he doesn’t want?
  • What is the culture like and how is it unique? Top performers want to be part of something special. What’s special about your culture?
  • Who works here? People want to work with people they like and respect. Strong performers want to work with other strong performers.
  • What’s it like to work for you? Do you involve people in interesting work? Do you coach and provide feedback? Do you provide development opportunities? Do you help increase people’s visibility in the organization?
  • What will my day look like at work? This is where realism is key.
  • What might my career look like? Is this job the end of the road or are there opportunities to grow with and within the organization?

Tours of Duty

The AllianceReid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn has a new book, The Alliance. In the book, he and his co-authors, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh suggest we need to think of employment, engagement and retention in a whole new way.

Since lifetime employment not even a thought in people’s minds, Hoffman and his co-authors suggest that rather than thinking about employment as this open ended agreement that, in reality, can be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, engage employees in tours of duty. The tour of duty is a ‘mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms between independent players.’ The book outlines three levels of tours.

Reed argues that the current employee and employer contract only contributes to a continued lack of trust. You can quit on me and I can let you go at any time. Tours of duty, on the other hand, set out explicit expectations and benefits (including helping to find a job elsewhere) for both the company and employee. This agreement promotes engagement because both sides are engaged in the agreement and both expect benefit from it.

It’s a thought provoking way to think about engagement. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

What Does HR Do For You?

What does HR do for youToday’s HR departments come in all shapes and sizes. Centralized. Decentralized. All HR services under one roof. Few kept internal, most outsourced.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal raises an interesting question. Do you really need HR? It profiles organizations that have decided to go without an HR department.

Managers take full responsibility for hiring, firing, mediating employee issues, career development, etc. There are some executives in the article who love it. There are managers in the article who find it concerning.

So, my question is, what does HR do for you? Would your organization be more nimble and innovative without it? Does it get in the way of moving things forward? Is the coaching and resources of an HR department valuable to you as an executive and manager?

Click here to answer our poll question:
Is HR valuable to you and your company?

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

 

 

We Are Really Bad at This

Promoting ManagersOur friends at Gallup have found that hiring and promoting managers is something we are not very good at doing. As a matter of fact, according to their research, we get it wrong about 82% of the time.

Part of the reason is what I’ve seen, and you’ve probably seen, time and again — we promote the person who is a really good performer not necessarily someone who will be a good manager. According to Gallup’s research, we also get it wrong so often because the odds are not in our favor to begin with. Only about 10% of people have the five talents essential for great managers. On a positive note, this 10% make up about 18% of the management ranks.

So, what are the five talents?

    • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
    • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
    • They create a culture of clear accountability.
    • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
    • They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

If you don’t possess all of these talents, don’t despair. Gallup found in addition to the 10% who have all of them, two in ten people have at least some. With coaching and development they are able to develop into very good managers.

To read more, click here.

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

 

Another Common Misconception

working guy over 40

I saw a recent example of hiring decisions based assumptions not reality today. It seems that Silicon Valley has a major issue with hiring people over the age of 40. The common thinking is that anyone over 40 has lost their edge, aren’t innovative and stuck in a paradigm. Based on some research by Vivek Wadhwa, the news of the over-40’s creative demise seems to be drastically overstated.

Here are a few innovators and their over-40 inventions:

 

    • Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod when he was 44. He discovered electricity at 46.
      He helped draft the Declaration of Independence at 70, and he invented bifocals after that.
    • Henry Ford introduced the Model T when he was 45. 
    • Sam Walton built Walmart in his mid-40s. 
    • Ray Kroc built McDonald’s in his early 50s. 
    • Ray Kurzweil published The Singularity Is Near in his 50s.
    • Alfred Hitchcock directed Vertigo when he was 59.
    • Frank Lloyd Wright built his architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater, when he was 68. 
    • Steve Jobs’ most significant innovations-iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad-came after he was 45.

Instead of making the assumption when you’re hiring and cutting out a significant sector of your possible candidate pool, ask some questions that will let you know just how creative that gray-haired guy with few wrinkles really is.

Why is my Superstar Stumbling?

Boston Red Sox 2012 SeasonAs the Red Sox finish the worst season in memory, I came across a Harvard Business School Working Knowledge paper from last fall about why the Red Sox blew it last season. In the article, Carmen Nobel writes about Boris Groysberg’s work on superstars. In examining more than 1,000 Wall Street analysts, what Groysberg found is that those who were superstars at any given firm underperformed when they moved to another bank. He found that they underperformed not only early in the job but for years afterwards.

He noted the following factors as reasons why the superstars stumbled:

  • They are expected to thrive from the first day on the job with little or no training to help them adjust. I have found this to be a frequent occurrence. Managers often struggle with providing training or being directive with a team member who is very highly skilled or very experienced. They don’t want to offend the person or cause the individual to think the manager questions his capabilities. Everyone needs coaching and direction when they are in a new environment. Just because they were terrific at it in their old job doesn’t mean they know how it works here.
     
  • They may not fit with the existing team. Groysberg finds that the more interaction and dependence the superstar has on others the more issues there were with ‘star power portability.” A superstar salesperson’s success may be more portable than a scientist who is part of an R & D team. This argues for thinking about how the team or lack of a team impacts one’s ability to be successful. If team interaction and dependence is high, you need to make sure you know how the superstar works with others and how you’ll integrate them into the mix.
     
  • Leadership across the team. The management style needs to fit the team. Groysberg states that a collegial style fits if others on the team, including the superstar, act as leaders and set the tone. If the superstar is a maverick or not supporting other team members, a top down approach may be needed. Again, you need to look at the team and assess what management style is going to work.

Groysberg doesn’t argue against hiring superstars. Rather he says you need to make sure you are hiring well and developing them to work effectively in your culture.

 

What Do You Have to Offer Top Talent?

Hiring is ramping up and as always, highly talented, successful job candidates are in high demand. There never seem to be enough. Even in the depths of the recession we heard that companies had openings they couldn’t fill because they couldn’t find the right candidates.

What if it wasn’t the candidates but the companies? What if those candidates stayed away because they couldn’t see value in what the company had to offer?

When we hire, we tend to look at hiring as a one way street, i.e. I have a need and I need someone who meets my specifications. That’s a problem. Hiring is a two way street. We have a need for someone to meet our specifications. As we should, we always want the best. The most talented candidates also have needs and specifications that they want companies to meet. Top talent has the upper hand in the hiring scenario. They know that what they have is in demand in the marketplace. They can be selective about where they will work.

To attract and hire the best you need to know what you have to offer that’s attractive to a top tier candidate. While money is important to them it is by no means the only thing that’s important. For many, it ranks third or fourth most important.

In order to compete for top talent, define an employer brand. Ask yourself:

  • What are the values, mission and purpose of your organization? Top talent want to be part of a company that is going somewhere that resonates with them. They want to work for a company whose values align with their own. 
     
  • What’s the culture? How do people talk about what it’s like to work for you or your company? Is it a family? Are you at war? Do you work hard, play hard? Cultural fit is a key indicator of a candidate’s long term success. Top talent look for a sense of community. If they can’t identify with your culture or if you can’t define your culture in ways that speaks to them, they don’t want to be part of it.
     
  • What opportunities will they have to grow and develop? Top talent doesn’t want to stagnate. Even if they’re in the same role for five years, they want to know that there is opportunity to grow within that role, to take on new challenges and build their capabilities. 

During the interview process, candidates will ask “what’s the best thing about working here?” Don’t let your answer be just ‘the money’ or some vague answer like ‘the opportunity.’ Be able to articulate a strong brand and provide examples that can bring the brand to life. Show top talent why working for you and your company is the best decision they can make.

He Seemed Such a Perfect Fit in the Interview

 

“…But, he seemed like such a great candidate in the interview…”

 

 

 

Anyone who has hired people over any length of time has had this experience. The person seemed so perfect in the interview only to be far less than perfect once he was on the job.

Truthfully, if we conducted any other part of our business the way we approach hiring and interviewing, we would be fired. I know very few people who approach interviewing with the structure and focus it deserves. We start with a list of job duties and solicit resumes for people we think may be able to perform those duties. We then schedule interviews. We may include some other people to also interview the candidate. We often choose those people because they are who is available that day. Some people may spend a few minutes before the interview thinking about what questions they will ask the candidate others will wing it. We talk with the candidate for 30 minutes, maybe 45. After the interview, the feedback tends to be a quick hallway conversation about our general reactions to the candidate. We don’t really spend any time talking about what we are looking for in the candidate. We don’t talk about what kind of experiences we think they need to be successful. We don’t talk about the factors that really make someone successful in the job but aren’t in the job description — things like collaboration or teamwork or being a self-starter or one of a hundred other possible things that really make someone successful.

If you’re going to be hiring this year, turn the usual process on its head and actually approach it like a critical business process.

    • Plan for the interview. Identify what will make someone successful in the role. This should lead to a list of characteristics, competencies or experiences that set a successful candidate apart. When combined with skills and educational requirements, these become the criteria you’ll use to make the decision.
    • Involve people in the interview who will interact with this person in a meaningful way once he or she is on the job. They should know something about the role and what people do in that role.
    • Prep the people who will be interview the candidate with what types of things you want them to look for in the interview. Tell them what the most important characteristics, competencies or experiences are that you want to see in the person you will hire.
    • Ask questions in the interview that give insights into how the candidate has approached a similar situation to what he or she will face on the job. What was the situation? What did he do in that situation? What was the result or key learning from what he did? Ask for examples and then ask for a few more examples. You’ll find out a lot more about what the person really brings to the job than with questions like “Tell me about your last job.” and “Do you prefer to work with people?”
    • Go back to the criteria you set before the interview. Meet with everyone who talked with the candidate and talk about how the candidates stack up against the criteria.

Do this for every interview you conduct.  It will lead to fewer situations where you’ll find yourself saying, “But she was so good in the interview…”