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Stories from the HR Files

7 Jun, 2011 By: Sally Brause, GreatAmerica Leasing imageSource

Stories from the HR Files

One of the most poignant frustrations about hiring came from an office equipment dealership sales manager who shared with me, “The last thing this guy sold to me was himself during the interview. He hasn’t sold a thing since!” Whether it is sales or any other position within your company, we’ve likely all experienced this sentiment, and frankly, it doesn’t feel good.

This article is the first in a short series for imageSource readers that is designed to help share best practices to help you increase the likelihood that you will be able to attract, motivate and retain top performing talent for your business.

Hiring people is tough because people are very complex. Job candidates come to us with different backgrounds, interests and expectations and each of us approaches hiring with our own experiences and expectations. So let’s spend some time today opening a few HR files to take a look at three real-life hiring situations I am sharing to help you improve your process going forward. 

Identify: Take a Closer Look at Success Behaviors
We’ve all likely had the employee who didn’t work out and our natural reaction is to try to avoid making that mistake again. I was working with a business leader who was in the process of recruiting for a sales representative. When I asked the leader what she was looking for, a couple of top priorities were a person who could show up to work on time and would actually get his/her reports in on schedule.

When I probed about why those were the characteristics required for the job, it turned out she had just let a person go who failed in these areas. Her natural reaction was to gravitate to what the unsuccessful person didn’t do versus focusing on what the most successful sales people in her organization do.

While I know that showing up to work on time and getting reports may be important to this organization, focusing on that as a high priority during the interview would likely not lead to the success this leader wanted. I know many organized and timely people who couldn’t make a living in sales.

 Being able to fully identify what differentiates top performers from the average or below average performers is the real key to success in this step of the process.

Instead, I strongly recommend you study the characteristics of your top performers and look for differentiations or go to external sources who have already studied this. You will want to review areas such as skills, knowledge, aptitudes, interests, experience, education, values and behaviors. Because people and workplaces are complex, there is not one single characteristic or trait (s) that can predict complete success in your hiring process.

Instead, identify differences in those key performance areas and look for a good cultural fit when identifying job candidates. Doing this will put you in a better position to hire for long term success, no matter what role you are filling within your business.

Assess: Use Preset Criteria
Have you ever been hi-jacked in an interview without realizing it? This can happen if you aren’t clear on what you’re looking for and how to assess for it. One company recently learned this the hard way. They were looking for a new leader within the company & had heard good things about one of the candidates. When they brought the candidate in for the interview, they failed to fully prepare the assessment team. They only had a limited set of questions and hadn’t really given much thought to how the ideal candidate should answer the questions.

The candidate came in and was terrific…or so they thought! He was very energetic and engaging. He asked them what they were looking for and then used this knowledge to formulate his responses. The problem with this was two-fold: The company gave away the answers – they told him exactly what they were looking for, and more importantly, they failed to use objective assessment criteria to determine if his answers were based on actual experiences or wishful thinking learned through years of successfully interviewing.

The problem with this scenario is you really are not getting the desired results from your interview or assessment process. Instead, use a well thought out and consistent process with trained interviewers. One step of this is to use behavior based interview questions that seek to get the information you need to make a good assessment. Specifically ask questions that will elicit a response that leads to real life past stories (or examples) from your job candidate.

Past behavior is a good indicator of future performance. In addition, you may consider using multiple interviewers, a job shadow process and reference checks to verify the information presented to you is consistent and accurate. There are additional tools to use during the assessment phase that I will cover in a future article.

Onboard: Don’t Sink the First Day
After you have gone through the process to hire a new employee, don’t forget the important step of introducing your employee to your company. Imagine your first day on the job and you sit alone for an hour with nothing to do; or you are seated next to people in different departments with little interest in why you are there or take time to welcome you; or your new boss is traveling that week? Would that make you feel welcome to your new company? Would this experience encourage and motivate your new employee?

This true story is just one example of how employers can mess up a new employee’s first day. We are all busy running our businesses, but take the time to plan out a schedule of meetings and training that is appropriate for your new hire. Have a defined on-boarding plan for day one, week one, month one and beyond. Stock the new employee’s desk with supplies and provide a working computer and phone. By being prepared from day one, your orientation process will get new employees producing results fast and more engaged with your corporate culture.

Remember: It’s Real Life
The beauty of helping dealers nationwide with hiring is that whatever challenge you have with hiring, I have probably helped one of your peers through it. By recognizing that by implementing a consistent hiring process, you will get more consistent and beneficial results and avoid joining the stories from the HR files.

Sally Brause is the Director of Human Resources Consulting for GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation. You can ask your hiring questions by contacting her via email sbrause@greatamerica.com

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