Category Archives: Magi Graziano

8 Steps to Transform your Corporate Culture

By Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano-corporate culture

The engagement level of your workforce expands beyond the limits of offering tangibles such as a great benefits package, competitive market rates, flexible work schedules and challenging projects. Your company culture is truly your competitive advantage.

Most leaders are intent on shaping a constructive, collaborative and innovative workplace; however, accomplishing this eludes most. The following 8 steps are tried-and-true advances to creating a great place to work. 

1. Understanding That the Organization is a ‘Human’ System

The human system is made of people and poses a higher degree of competency from all those who operate inside it. A human system requires much more cultivating as a living and breathing system is made up of many different people with thousands of perspectives, thoughts, beliefs, points of view, preferences, etc.

Each person involved and engaged in shaping a constructive corporate culture needs to understand their specific role. Click To Tweet

In a highly functional human system, such as a constructive corporate culture, the functionality of the system as a whole empowers individuals to fully participate with one another outside the limits of personal agendas and ego and inspires people to collectively collaborate and contribute to the group cause.

Understanding the realities of the human system allows you to become responsible for intervening in the ‘drift’ and consciously shaping a culture that operates outside the automatic, normal human conditioned patterns.  When leaders of organizations understand the fundamental human operating mechanism and how thoughts work, they can proactively intervene and intentionally create an experience for people operating in the human system to thrive.  This intentional experience is a constructive corporate culture.

2. Getting Curious About What Is So

When you take the time to peel back the onion and analyze the current condition of the human system in your organization at a macro level, it gives you insights into the root causes of labor disputes, stifled workforce productivity, unwanted employee turnover, and lack of employee engagement.

It is imperative that you inform your people what you are up to and why. When you do reach out and let them know that you want to have a conversation or send a survey about culture, share the purpose behind your curiosity.  If you are unclear about your reason and purpose for learning more, wait until you are filled with purpose or compelled by a real business need to move forward.

Before you begin your inquiry process, ask yourself what you really want to learn and what will you do with the information once you learn it. As you are speaking to people and reviewing the results of the survey, embrace your most curious, non-judgmental, non-reactionary, authentic self. Staying in the neutral zone during your conversations allows you to sense patterns and discern systemic organizational themes. 

3. Acknowledging the Unworkability

Every executive has an image of how the ideal organization operates. The first step in any positive organizational change effort is getting real—the acceptance of what needs to change and what needs to happen to have the change last.

Make a list of the areas uncovered in the data collection process (interviews, focus groups, surveys) and prioritize the highest impact areas. The highest impact areas are highest because if improved, they would glean the highest return on time, money and effort invested.  Next connect the underlying behaviors, operating values and organizational processes or mindsets that intentionally or unintentionally constrain the overall engagement, performance, collaboration, and innovation among your workforce. Once you believe you have a handle on what is not working, it is important to allow the impact of this unworkability to move you into action.  

4. Owning the Impact 

Like it or not, the most senior executive is the ultimate guru with regards to how the organization operates. They decide what behavior is tolerated and how people treat each other.  Introspection and self-awareness allows you to get real with yourself about what is really going on in the organization. If you are able to let go of self-judgment and defensiveness, you are much more able to see yourself as at the source of the unworkability.  It is not about accepting blame or feeling guilty and taking responsibility for the problem; rather it is about seeing how you as the leader set the tone and create the space for constructive or destructive behavior to exist in the workplace.

5. Creating an Inspiring Vision 

A mission statement is meant to guide the way for people to know and understand how to behave, act, react and work in sync with one other to accomplish the collective goal.  In the absence of a grounded, motivating mission, human beings naturally focus on their individual experience and personal goals. The power and detriment of personal thinking in a human system is that it produces silo mentality, unnecessary competition and friction throughout the organization.  

6. Enrolling Others

Enrollment creates the possibility for others to feel connected and inspired in the workplace.  Once you gain clarity of your mission and vision, communicating the message to the workforce is essential.  Communication is often where messages break down. Realize that every person in your workforce has a unique perspective and way of listening, and target your message to the greater population and the varying degrees of listening. When crafting the message discern the impact it will have on the people hearing or seeing it.  

7. Designing and Following a Road Map

Once you have inspired the troops and promised a bright future for all who lead and follow in the organization it is time to formulate a specific action plan.  A cultural alignment road map includes desired outcomes, initiatives, programs, training, projects, people, and timelines. 

Each person involved and engaged in shaping a constructive corporate culture needs to understand their specific role, the amount of effort required outside of normal responsibilities, goals, and the desired organizational outcomes.  Laying out a plan for what comes first, second and third as well as who is ultimately responsible for keeping the overall action items and constructive culture initiatives on track is necessary to move forward.  As with any major organizational improvement, meeting regularly, tracking progress and publishing results is what empowers forward movement.

8. Measuring What Matters

Now that all the groundwork has been established, you know the why, what, how, and who, it is critical for success that you measure the benefits of the systemic changes you are making.  Many organizations utilize the balanced scorecard approach as a framework for setting the right metrics.  Additionally articulating and tracking the key result areas impacted by shaping a constructive culture gives insight and information that tells people in the organization what is working and what is not, what needs to pivot or realign, and what needs to stop. Without system-wide accountability from the top to the bottom and everyone in between, the organization won’t flourish.  A core component of a constructive culture is an achievement. When you measure what matters, people pay attention. Through accountability and transparency, people get to see their impact, how the team is doing and how the culture improving is elevating the organizations’ operating effectiveness.

In Conclusion

The eight steps to transforming your corporate culture from the inside-out are not difficult to walk through. They are not revolutionary. These steps are simply a common sense approach to bringing out the best in people in the places they work.  

Magi Graziano is a speaker, author, and Chief Evangelist for KeenAlignment, a global people optimization consultancy firm and Inc., 5000 award recipient. Her book, The Wealth of Talent, was written from over twenty years of real-world, hands-on experience. Those who experience Magi’s programs, on average, reduced operating expense 8 percent, improve net profit 5.6 percent and increase revenues by as much as 200 percent. For more information, please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

5 Double-Edged Sword Philosophies that Lead to Destructive Company Culture

By Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano-edged sword philosophies

Most of us spend the majority of our time at the office or actively working inside or as part of a human work system.  Whether we are conscious to it or not, the corporate culture of an organization can make or break how we feel about the organization and our place in it.

While most awake and aware leaders say they want a constructive corporate culture, many are uncertain of what it really takes to shape it. Consequently, these executives and managers unintentionally lead their people toward the fatal, destructive side of the culture coin. They do this by buying into five double-edged sword philosophies: Winning above all else, commanding and controlling, opposing others, pursuing perfection, and keeping the peace. These philosophies will undermine your mission to craft a constructive corporate culture.

1. Winning Above All Else

Winning is an incredibly powerful motivator. The desire to win can move mountains and bring in profits, however, when the need to win overwrites better judgement, fragments and erodes core values, runs over people, and leads people to the brink of exhaustion, it must be called out and new behaviors that promote and inspire must be integrated into the culture.  In pursuit of results above all else can cost of relationships, health and wellness, trust, quality and safety.

Inside competitive work cultures, members are often expected to operate in a “win-lose” framework, outperform peers, and work against (rather than with) their coworkers. What begins with a healthy race often devolves into unproductive dog-eat-dog internal workplace behavior.

The corporate culture of an organization can make or break how we feel about the organization and our place in it. Click To Tweet

A once healthy desire to “beat the competition” gone unchecked, very often, creates opportunities for unproductive behavior and perpetuating neural pathways and automatic ways of thinking and being that result in an organization eating itself alive. These shows up on the floor by people arguing for win/lose scenarios, in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions and resources. A focal shift from we to me, where silo’ and personalized thinking prevail.

Even though the intentions of leaders who want to “win” is most often well-meaning, a workplace culture that values winning above all else can be fertile ground for destructive behavior and employment brand erosion.

2. Commanding and Controlling

In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team are expected to take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors. Historically, this has been the ‘right’ way to lead and for many decades it actually worked. This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who admire and enjoy this model atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures where this type of behavior is rewarded, the powerful take over and the powerless surrender.

When leaders and team members are expected and even encouraged to power up over others, people in the organization often view themselves as pawns in the micromanagement chess game, or simply as cogs in the organizational profit wheel. They lose motivation and initiative and give less of their discretionary time to make the organization better. Commanding and controlling is a vicious cycle, and the only way out is to call it out, and inspire a new way to lead and a new way to follow.

3. Opposing Others

In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over years. But what often got us here will not get us there; and opposition is one of those elements of culture, much like winning at all costs, that turns the organization against itself. In work cultures where members are expected to be critical, oppose ideas of others, and make ‘safe’ decisions, people drop into fear, and suppress their ideas and creativity. Opposition shows up in communication such as, “Yes, but,” “We already tried that and it failed,” “I have been here for years and I know it won’t work,” and “No, because.” While everyone ought to be singing from the same overall hymnal and work together in tolerance and engagement, members of this type of organization spend far too much time navigating personalities and conflict, than collaborating, innovating and solving problems.

4. Pursuing Perfection

In other cases, there are leaders’ of quality-driven organizations who pride themselves with a commitment to excellence. While that intention may have been initially pure and congruent with the leader’s values, all too often the unconscious underlying behavior that is fostered with this value is perfection. In a culture of perfection, people do not take risks, they do not try new things, and they almost certainly do not put themselves or their reputation on the line to color outside the lines.

Leaders of many modern organizations often stake their reputations on delivering excellence or superior service. There are not many CEOs, who would stand behind sending out sloppy work, or delivering code to customers littered with errors; but there is a subtle difference between standing for quality and being in pursuit of perfection.

Perfection, by nature of its definition, leaves very little room for risk taking and creativity in your organization. When curiosity is stifled and looking good is the primary focus, mistakes are hidden, learning is mitigated, and growth is constrained. In an environment where perfection is celebrated and rewarded, conventionality emerges as a safe bet for staying out of the boss’ cross hairs. In a work place that prioritizes perfectionism, members are expected to conform follow the rules and make a good impression, and the byproduct of making a good impression and following the rules is that creativity and risk-taking are thwarted and innovation becomes impossible. Resistance to change becomes a blocker to progress and complacency sets in. While certain roles demand perfection or someone could die, perfection as a culture, limits and constrains what is possible for the organization and the people in it.

5. Keeping the Peace and Getting Along

Everyone who is anyone in business understands the need to cooperate with others in the workplace and the need for teamwork and collaboration. However, creating a work culture where everyone has to be liked and everyone has to get along with little to no emphasis on performance or results; most often leads to over-the-top consensus building, perceived favoritism, a loss of focus and ambition, inconsistent accountability and a very destructive fear of conflict.

In a work culture where needing approval is a core component of how the organization works, team members are expected to agree with, gain the approval of and be liked by others. In a work place such as this, disagreements are frowned upon and people are encouraged to go along with the crowd—even when the crowd is prepared to drive off a cliff. When team members fear conflict, even constructive conflict, they are incapable of engaging in debates or openly voicing opinions. The team avoids conflicts; which involve speaking up against bad decisions thus leading to inferior organizational results.

It‘s imperative to understand that “keeping the peace” workplace cultures can be an insidious thief of organizational and talent optimization.  Keeping the peace has the potential have rob the organization and its people experiencing the highest levels of role fulfillment and role satisfaction. When people and the human system they operate in does not actively engage in productive ways of being including; constructive conflict, speaking their truth, giving new ideas, and sharing insights of what is not working; they can never really get to real engagement in the workplace.

The five double-edged sword philosophies can sweep the rug out from under your company’s overall mission and set you drastically off track. Shaping constructive culture is about intentionally causing the kind of corporate culture that exemplifies your brand promise. This takes a solid and palatable intention for that culture as a holistic human system, a system of people operating as a living and agile organism. Intentional culture is all about monitoring what you are creating and making necessary shifts along the way to ensure you are accomplishing what you set out to by creating the intentional culture in the first place. 

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

Igniting Your Team to New Levels of Performance

By Magi Graziano

Magi GrazianoWhen it comes to constructing a team of people who work well together to create winning outcomes, knowing ‘how to’ and understanding ‘how to’ are two very different phenomena.

The strong and astute organizational leader is one who is committed to optimizing their resources and maximizing their return on their investment. Given the people expense is often the largest investment in any enterprise; creating this kind of culture is simply smart business. As a leader, empowering your workforce to unleash their strengths and encouraging people to collaborate, and innovate leverages people’s ability to act as a team and produce results.

In work cultures where people focus on only their piece of the puzzle it leads to silo mentality and ultimately breeds ineffectiveness and inefficiency. A high performance team cannot exist in an environment where competition and one-up-manship prevail.  When people on the team focus on each other’s limitations and detriments—and why things cannot be done—they all too often miss opportunities to make the organization better. Additionally, teamwork is adversely impacted when the people on the team feel the need to focus on fighting and jockeying for authority or power. This need to be ‘better than’ decreases collaboration and limits innovation. It is a recipe for stagnation and conflict—neither which drive long term results.

As leaders, it requires rewiring our minds and our teams to repair an absence of trust; however before you can rewire, you first need to be aware and responsible for the absence of trust in the first place. Teams respond best to a system that allows them to fall, learn from mistakes, and move forward again. Click To Tweet

Whether you are seeking to create a high performance work team or a high performance culture; there are seven steps for creating an environment where high performance and teamwork can thrive.

1. Identify and Clarify the Purpose for the Team: People must understand the why behind what they are doing. Once the purpose for the team is crystalized and talking points are clearly outlined, it is the initiator of the team’s role to connect the dots for people to see how they connect to it. Communicating an inspiring vision for the people on the team and mapping what success looks like when it is achieved is a foundational element for congealing a group of people together and getting them geared up to work together in unison.

2. Select a Leader: The team’s leader does not have to be the person who invents the possibility and purpose for the team; it does need to be a person who accepts the responsibility for shepherding and guiding the team to success. The leader’s job is to be present—to be there for the team. The best leaders select the right people, inspire them towards a vision and back out of the way during the planning stage—unless they are specifically asked for guidance.

3. Establish Rules: People need to know what is expected from them, and from the team. People need to know and understand where the boundaries are regarding decision-making, autonomy and performance. Giving people the rules of the game before they agree to play it allows for people to opt in or opt out of the team and the game. Advanced clarity of expectations also reduces unnecessary problems, reduces ambiguity and confusion and serves to mitigate poor performance and unwanted turnover on the team.

4. Select the Players: Whether you are building an enterprise or a team of people to accomplish a project, it is crucial that you select the right people for the right roles, for the right reasons. When this happens people join the team for the right reasons; which is the baseline team engagement. When people are engaged, they have a strong desire to bring value—to be a contributor. They enjoy the type of work they are doing and are able to connect their work to the bigger picture.

The best team dynamics happen when there is a variety of people who bring their uniqueness to the team. Beyond competencies and skills, it’s important to consider unique traits that each team member brings to the table and how those unique traits can be leveraged for optimal creativity and innovation.

5. Set the Level: Level-setting allows each member of the team a new opportunity to begin again. During a level set, team members explore their limiting beliefs and barriers to working with others in a productive and effective manner, and do the necessary work to unpack those factors that get in the way. The team as a whole is challenged to work together in experiential learning in ways they never considered.

Even the most effective, astute and self-aware people discover limits that were previously hidden from their conscious view. The team lays out the pathway for the best way to work together, how they will resolve personality conflicts and internal challenges with dynamics on the team.  At the completion of the level set, the team creates a collective possibility for the team that is inspiring to each and every member of the team.

6. Planning: The best approach for a leader during planning is to be a source for inspiration, questions, and guidance. Leaders who step too far in to planning create teams that are dependent on the leader and lack creativity. If the leader notices a problem with the plan, rather than pointing it out, it is much more empowering to ask questions that provoke the team members to activate their critical thinking skills to answer and think potential challenges through.

7. Check in, Track Progress, Celebrate Success: When people are aware of the milestone meetings and rely on regular feedback it reduces uncertainly and unnecessary stress.  Laying out the stages of organizational effectiveness, beginning with what it means to be operating in formulation and concentration and then defining criteria for low, moderate and high momentum gives the team an opportunity to self regulate, correct and celebrate as they see fit.

Utilizing a customized version of the agile methodology is an excellent means to keep progress on track and support the team in attaining momentum with their project, program or goal.  Daily stand ups, bi-weekly declarations and intention setting as well as bi monthly retrospectives give teams a structure they can count on and gives the team healthy guardrails to work independently and remain responsibility to each other and the organization as a whole.

While knowing and understanding are two very different distinctions, doing is the link that shifts knowing to understanding. For the impatient leader, doing may be a challenge because progress is most often only experienced incrementally. Building a high performance team is not about exponential breakthroughs, if they happen great; however if sustainability is your goal, impatience is your enemy. Teams respond best to a system that allows them to learn, move forward, fall, learn from mistakes, move forward again and sustain progress over time. When high concentration and effort is celebrated, and low momentum is acknowledged and genuinely appreciated teams build confidence and fortitude to stay the course.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provide her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

Make the Shift From Tactical to Strategic And Maximize Your HR Leadership Effectiveness

By Magi Graziano

Magi GrazianoMany HR practitioners who find them selves working in small to medium sized companies share a common frustration. They complain that their time is spent playing interference between faulty management practices and disgruntled or entitled employees or pitching in and helping with superfluous administrative and office management functions; neither which drive the employment brand or foster employee engagement.

Research indicates that over 60 percent of HR people in small to mid-sized business surveyed report that they spend at least 45 percent of their time playing the role of clean up crew rather than contributing to long term, proactive and strategic initiatives that forward sustainability and momentum in their organization.

The following is a best practice approach to self-discovery and an action plan to take HR from tactical and good to Strategic and great. The five easy steps are just the beginning of demonstrating your value as a long term organizational contributor.

1) At all starts with alignment. What is the overarching purpose of the HR role and specifically how does HR enable company success. When the business leaders and HR come to agreement on this important question it paves the way for the role to make a real difference in how people impact organizational success.

2) Create a matrix of how time is spent in what aspects HR. What percentage of the month, week or day is spent in in which are of focus. How much time is spent crisis mode, what percentage in Administrivia land, and how much in Talent Management; Recruitment, Succession Planning, Organizational Development and Design, Integrating people into the organization, or Proactively teaching and coaching managers. Evaluate what works and does not work and then step into the commitment of changing. Click To Tweet

3) Weigh out the cost of outsourcing versus handling those non-strategic functions inside. Really look at the opportunity cost of holding on to those functions that do not make or break the business. Is the right solution to hire a junior or administrative level person to administer those administrative processes or is it to outsource anything that can be outsourced; payroll, benefits, compensation, benefits, FMLA, etc. Delegate those tasks that detract from focus on building the organization with the best and creating a winning employment brand and culture.

4) Self-evaluate your HR leadership ability. Do you have the skills, beliefs, talents required to operate at a strategic level. What strengths do you possess that empower you? What gaps are present in your mindset, attitudes, beliefs and competencies that are likely to become barriers to your strategic level success? Tell the truth to yourself about what personal and professional development you need and then dig further and ask yourself if you are actually willing to do the work to be the person that is needed for the organization to excel in the people category.

5) Build a game plan. Create a five-year vision for how HR will elevate and accelerate the organization in achieving their goals. Identify the top organizational goals and determine what is needed from HR to enable those goals to come to fruition. Get Executive buy in early about your vision and the big work that needs to be done to get you there. Once you clarify you are on the right track, make certain you address the gaps needing to be filled through identifying the immediate gains required to move forward. Once that is complete build out your 1, 2, and 3-year plan.

In conclusion, transforming how your HR team operates takes courage and commitment. Courage because evaluating what works and does not work and then stepping into the commitment of changing it takes healthy self-esteem, role confidence and persuasion skills. Applying these five easy steps is just the beginning of demonstrating your value as a strategic HR, long-term organizational contributor. Once you identify the weaknesses and remove the constraints, it is up to you to stay the course and make it happen!

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provide her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

Five Secrets to be a Great Interviewer

By Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano

Five Secrets to be a Great Interviewer

With the generational and workforce demographic challenges adversely impacting everybody’s ability to attract, hire, engage, develop and retain people, you need a leg up on ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward in the employee selection process. Gallup reports that, on average, 30 percent of all hires feel mismatched to their role, and almost 70 percent of all working people feel somewhat disengaged either in their role or in their organization. The reality about these statistics is that is all begins with the hire.

There are five secrets to being a great interviewer.  Learning about and mastering these keys empower you to maximize your effectiveness in hiring the right people, for the right roles, for the right reasons.

The first secret: Consciously prepare yourself: By following Stephen Covey’s advice and beginning with the end in mind you provide the most value to your company and candidates. There are three types of preparation: role needs preparation, interviewing preparation, and self-preparation. Make sure you know and understand specifically what you want to come away with before you start the interview.  Ultimately, you are interviewing to make a hiring recommendation, and it is your responsibility to fully understand the role you are hiring for as well as thoroughly understand the person you are considering matching to it.

Role. Ground yourself thoroughly in the needs of the role. Find out why it exists, its impact to the overall business strategy, as well as its success indicators.  Understand the role’s core functions and what it will take in terms of people, leadership, and decision-making competencies.  Be clear about the required technical skills, and the mandatory must haves (in that order).

Interview. During the interview it is your job to determine the answer to these very important questions. Can the candidate really do the job? How long will the candidate be happy and productive? How will the candidate impact others?

Self. Bring your best self to the interview. The interview is not something you do to a candidate, is it something you go through together.  Prepare yourself for interviewing with a balanced perspective. Consider the perspective of the role, the candidate, and the company during the interview.  Take the time to review the candidate’s resume and the role requirements before you step in to the interview. Check in with yourself and make sure you are distraction free and that you are willing and able to be fully present during the interview. This means to turn off your phone and email, clear your desk and be ready.

The second secret:  Bring structure: Avoid the pitfall of interviewing on autopilot. Get yourself mentally prepped to be in an interview. With how busy a day around the office can be, it’s not unheard of to conduct interviews on the run or in a less than optimal setting. It’s important to use an agenda and an interviewing guide to get the most out of the interview.

Use a formal work history interviewing guide that gives you all the questions that you need answered. Be specific about the time and the duration of the interview.  It is important that you plan time blocks for each section of the interview.  A specific time block should be set for the beginning of the interview, where you gather insights and an overview of the candidate, their interests and why they think it is a fit.  Block another time limit for the actual deep dive of the work history, and another for discovering the candidate’s goals and aspirations.

The third & fourth secret: Active listening & being curious: Being present is something many working professionals struggle with.  The ability to multi-task often comes at the cost of truly listening. The problem is when that happens in an interview, and you’re not actively listening, you are downloading and only hearing what you want to hear or only listening to validate your assumptions.  The first level of listening in an interview causes you to miss major clues that very well could enlighten you on the candidate’s compatibility with the company and in the role.Great interviews start with great interviewers. Click To Tweet

Active listening allows you to come out of an interview with some new data points that you weren’t aware of before. During this interview you allow yourself to challenge some of your own assumptions, and when that happens that’s a good indicator that you have been exposed to some new realities out there that you weren’t aware of.

Paying attention, listening, and curiosity at higher levels—specifically during the career aspiration portion of the interview—is a major factor for successful long-term hires. Active listening at this level allows you to see reality through the candidate’s perspective—through their pair of eyes.

Active listening allows you to ask open ended questions in an interview and come out of a conversation with a new perspective, not just new data points. That’s key when evaluating how long a candidate will stay with the company and if the company can deliver on what the candidate wants and needs in a role.

Overall listening to what the candidate says and does not say illuminates their qualifications, interest, and potential red flags. Listening to how the candidate words their answers, and watching their facial expressions and body language also gives you access to how they feel and the attitude they have about the work they do.

The fifth secret: Mindful conclusions: Take the time to debrief and evaluate the match fit for the candidate in the role. Go through your role requirements, and the candidates’ abilities and skills, as well as who they are and what needs and desires they want for their career. Lastly, bring all of it together and evaluate it this match makes sense. If it does not make sense, be honest and transparent and tell the candidate. If it does make sense for the candidate, the role, and the company, tell the candidate and arrange for next steps.

Great interviews start with great interviewers, and the best in the business conduct the process with five distinct secrets. They prepare diligently, they ensure a structured setting with an interviewing guide, they listen actively and curiously, and form mindful conclusions about a candidate to foster future success.

The next time you find a new candidate on your interview calendar, utilize these secrets to achieve more effective hires.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.