Tag Archives: human resources

The Right Fit Makes the Difference

Ten Steps to Better Hiring

 By Kate Zabriskie

Kate ZabriskieI don’t understand what happened. He Difference interviewed so well. But its six months later, and it’s obvious. He’s not a good fit.

We should have known better. She’s just not detail oriented, and this job requires a lot of repetitive work. She’s a creative, she’s bored, and she’s leaving. I wish we had somewhere we could use her talents, but we don’t.

Why do we have such a hard time getting on the same page? We rarely agree on who to hire when we have a new position, and from day one it seems as if only half of us are invested in a new hire’s success. It’s just sad. We could do better. We need to do better.

When bad hiring happens, everyone suffers.

Finding the right person for a position is part art and part science. While some people certainly have gift for finding good people, everyone can improve their success rate by following a methodical step-by-step process.

Step One: Know what you want.

First and foremost, it’s important to envision what work will look like with a new person. What will he or she do? How do you envision interactions looking and sounding? What do you expect in terms of quality and quantity of work? What temperament do you envision working best? Does the person need to be creative? Is the work basically the same each day? If this person is going to interact with people other than you, who are they, and what do they want from a new hire? Knowing what you want is essential.

Step Two: Create a robust job description.

Once you are clear about the kind of person you want to hire, it’s time to put pen to paper and craft a job description. When you list the duties the person will perform, if you begin each of your sentences with a verb and write in everyday English, you’ll be well on your way to solidifying your expectations.

Step Three: Think about what it’s going to take for someone to be successful.

Experience and education are essential to success in some jobs, and for others, they’re not. If education isn’t a deal breaker, do you want to exclude candidates by making a degree mandatory? What you require can widen or narrow your applicant pool—potentially in ways that could hurt your chances of finding the right person. Think long and hard about what’s essential before moving to the next step.

Step Four: Create a strong job ad.

Just as candidates are selling themselves, you are selling your company and the position you are filling. An ad is your opportunity to attract talent. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or doing the recruiting yourself, spend time creating strong job title, telling your organization’s story, and briefly describing your essential requirements. If you have a great location, solid benefits, or some other selling point, include that information too. Your ad should quickly paint a robust picture of why you’re great, what you’re looking for, and why they should want to work with you.Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. Click To Tweet

Step Five: Promote your position.

The type of job you want to fill should dictate where you’ll promote it. Many options exist. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to have a plan and to understand how each promotional avenue works.

Step Six: Craft your screening questions.

In tandem with crafting your ad and promoting your position, you’ll need to develop your questions for screening candidates and interviewing those with whom you eventually choose to meet. This step is essential for several reasons. First, it helps you follow a repeatable process. Second, it helps those who interview to ask relevant and legal questions. Finally, it ensures you are fair and can gather answers you can compare with relative ease.

Step Seven: Evaluate candidates and set a phone screening schedule.

Once your job closes, it’s time to review the qualifications of those who met your position’s criteria and set a screening schedule. Depending on the number of responses you get, you may choose to screen everyone or rank candidates and screen the top group. Either way, you’ll want to talk to applicants before you bring them in to meet in person. Phone interviews offer several benefits. They allow you to get an initial impression of a candidate without having people’s physical appearance influence your thinking. They are also an efficient way to address some basic questions.

Step Eight: Determine who you will invite to interview in person, and prepare your interviewing team.

After you’ve concluded your screening process, it’s time to prepare your interviewing team and invite candidates into the office. Getting ready is essential. Both you and the prospective employees are auditioning. Your interviewing team needs to be just that, a team. You should discuss the welcoming process, the interviewing order, the questions each person will ask, and how you will close your meetings with candidates and send them on their way. Leave little up to chance. You are on stage. Depending on the position you are filling, you may decide to conduct more than one round of interviews. Regardless of what you choose, you must have a plan.

Step Nine: Gather feedback, and rank the candidates.

When you’ve finished interviewing people, it’s time to rank them. Because you’ve asked each person the same questions, this should be easier than it could be if you hadn’t.

If you find your team disagrees, think before you make an offer. If none of the candidates is exactly right, again, think before you make an offer. The wrong person now is rarely as good as the right person a little later.

Step Ten: Make your offer.

Assuming there are no obvious roadblocks, it’s time to make an offer. Be excited when you do, and recognize this is only the first step in effectively integrating an employee into the fabric of your organization.

So there you have it. Ten steps can make all the difference. Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. The better you are at establishing and following a strong inclusive process, the stronger your results will be. Now go find that candidate!

 

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

Keeping Invisible Disabilities in Mind When Planning Company Events

By Tracy Stuckrath

It’s the first day of your company’s annual sales meeting for twenty-five people. While you ate a hearty breakfast at home before the meeting, you’re starving and ready for lunch. As you walk into the break room, you see that your boss’ administrative assistant ordered pizza for lunch.

Your stomach flips and your heart sinks. Pizza is not a safe or viable meal for you because you have celiac disease. What makes it worse is that despite the fact the pizza place she purchased from offers gluten-free pizza, she only ordered “regular” pizza and a large tossed “salad.” As you prepare to eat the salad, you read the ingredients on the salad dressing and find out it too, contains gluten. It will just be iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes for lunch for you.

You felt very left out and overlooked—and now, even hungrier than before. You’ve worked here for a few years and the office is not that big. You thought she knew better.

Did you know that celiac disease, food allergies and intolerances are considered invisible disabilities? Did you know that people with celiac disease, diabetes and/or food allergies have the same protections afforded by the ADA as others with disabilities?

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defined a disability as any individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The 2008 extension of the Act was written to add additional terminology to major life activities—eating, digestive system, immune system, and cardiovascular system—and, in turn, providing civil rights protections for individuals with allergies, including food allergies, and other dietary needs, like celiac disease. In an essence, it was updated to better recognize invisible disabilities.

These invisible disabilities affect many of your employees, and it’s important to be mindful of them when planning office activities, meals, or outside functions. Below are some of the most commonly encountered food-related invisible disabilities, and some ways to keep them in mind when hosting meals at the office.

Food Allergies

Triggered by eating, touching or inhaling a food protein, reactions can range from mild (hives, coughing) to severe (throat closing, chest pain, fainting) and can be potentially fatal.

While more than 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions, eight foods—wheat, egg, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish and soy—cause more than 90 percent of all allergic reactions.

Before food is served at work, ask employees if anyone has food allergies and what you need to avoid to keep them safe. Label all foods with the allergens they contain. Depending on the severity of the allergy and the trigger, inform all employees of the need to not bring that food in the workplace.

Diabetes

A life-long genetic disease requiring a person to closely manage their diet daily. A healthy meal for diabetic is generally the same as healthy eating for anyone—low in fat, moderate in salt and sugar, lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit. Avoid serving only heavily processed convenience foods—fried foods, food and beverages with added sugar and foods that have excess butter, cheese and/or oils—in the office.

When this discomfort or worse, life-threatening dangers, are ignored, you are not only ignoring your duty of care, you are endangering people with an invisible disability. Click To Tweet

Digestive Disorders, Such Celiac Disease

Disorders of the digestive system which cause a person’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract to not work properly or at all. Many triggers for these disorders—celiac disease, Crohn’s, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps and even cancer—are food related and require people to avoid specific foods to avoid severe pain, missing work or going to the hospital.

Heart Conditions

Diet is an important risk factor in avoiding and possibly reversing heart diseases. Some medications for heart disease do not interact well with specific foods and can decrease the effectiveness and/or cause adverse effects—high blood pressure, heart failure and/or strokes. If an employee lets you know that they must avoid specific foods, they may be doing for an invisible medical disability.

These are just a few examples of the many diseases, conditions, dysfunctions, and alternative ways of experiencing the world that fall under the classification of invisible disabilities. Most who understand the world of invisible disabilities understand that the existence of ‘normal’ is an illusion.

The disability of extremely high importance is food allergies, food intolerances and other medically-necessary diets, like celiac disease. Yes, these are protected under the ADA. And because they don’t require an assistive device, like a wheelchair, cane, glasses, or hearing aid, food allergies and intolerances are an invisible disability.

In most cases, participating in meetings and events at work or while traveling for work makes it close to impossible to completely avoid allergens, either because they can’t avoid the ingredient or they can’t control for cross-contamination.

When this discomfort or worse, life-threatening dangers, are ignored by those hosting meetings in the office, you are not only ignoring your duty of care, you are endangering people with an invisible disability.

Food allergies, celiac disease, heart disease and diabetes are not choices your employees make. They are invisible diseases—and disabilities—that require managing their diet very closely and specifically so they can maintain their health, their life and their job.

As founder and chief connecting officer of thrive!, Tracy Stuckrath helps organizations worldwide understand how food and beverage (F&B) affects risk, employee/guest experience, company culture and the bottom line. As a speaker, consultant, author and event planner, she is passionate about safe and inclusive F&B that satisfies everyone’s needs. She has presented to audiences on five continents and believes that food and beverage provide a powerful opportunity to engage audiences on multiple levels. For more information about Tracy, please visit: www.thrivemeetings.com.

How to Hire Top Candidates with Storytelling

By Henry DeVries

Henry DeVriesA tough challenge for many executives is convincing top talent to join their company. A second challenge is training newcomers to understand the company’s core values.

To become better at hiring and training, it pays to know how humans are hardwired for stories. If you want the prospective employees to think it over, give them lots of facts and figures. If you want them to decide to join your company for the right reasons, then tell them the right story.

Now any executive can easily use proven techniques of telling a great story employed by Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and Wall Street by employing six simple steps to storytelling to attract the right candidates and properly train them on your company culture.

These stories must be true case studies but told in a certain way. The process starts with understanding your core values.

Core Values are Key

Top candidates don’t want to work just anywhere. They want an organization where they align with the core values.

Every business has core values, although some have not formally stated what they are. Basically, core values are the guiding principles that drive and organization’s conduct both internally with employees and externally with customers. Here are a few examples of core values of small to medium-sized businesses:

  • We go the extra mile for customers
  • We do whatever it takes to get the job done
  • We value integrity, which means doing what you say you are going to do
  • We are honest and transparent with employees and customers
  • We value quality as job number one

The list of possibilities is mighty long. Core values are a decision that company leaders make. But just naming a core value is not enough.To become better at hiring and training, it pays to know how humans are hardwired for stories. Click To Tweet

The Core Value Storytelling Formula

For every core value, the company should capture a true story of that core value in action. Here is a quick overview of the core value storytelling formula:

  1. Start with a main character. Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. This is your client. Make your main characters likable so the listeners will root for them. To make them likable, describe some of their good qualities or attributes. Generally, three attributes work best: “Marie was smart, tough, and fair” or “Johan was hardworking, caring and passionate.” For privacy reasons you do not need to use their real names (“this is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect confidentiality”).
  2. Have a nemesis character. Stories need conflict to be interesting. What person, institution, or condition stands in the character’s way? The villain in the story might be a challenge in the business environment, such as the recession of 2008 or the Affordable Care Act (the government is always a classic nemesis character).
  3. Bring in a mentor character. Heroes need help on their journey. They need to work with a wise person. This is where you come in. Be the voice of wisdom and experience. The hero does not succeed alone; they succeed because of the help you provided.
  4. Know what story you are telling. Human brains are programmed to relate to one of eight great meta-stories. These are: monster, underdog, comedy, tragedy, mystery, quest, rebirth, and escape. If the story is about overcoming a huge problem, that is a monster problem story. If the company was like a David that overcame an industry Goliath, that is an underdog story.
  5. Have the hero succeed. Typically, the main character needs to succeed, with one exception: tragedy. The tragic story is told as a cautionary tale. Great for teaching lessons, but not great for attracting clients. Have the hero go from mess to success (it was a struggle, and they couldn’t have done it without you).
  6. Give the listeners the moral of the story, which is the core value. Take a cue from Aesop, the man who gave us fables like The Tortoise and the Hare (the moral: slow and steady wins the race). Don’t count on the listeners to get the message. The storyteller’s final job is to tell them what the story means.

Six Ways to Put Stories into Action

After you build an inventory of stories that demonstrate your core values in action, you are then ready to deploy the stories. In storytelling, context is everything. You should never randomly tell stories, but instead use stories at the right strategic times.

Here are six perfect opportunities to persuade with a story:

  1. During a job interview. No, don’t start the interview telling stories. However, once the candidate has shared about themselves, then the interviewer can share stories about the core values of the organization.
  2. During a training class. Core values should be taught during training. First, state the core value and then explain what that means. For them to really get the point, tell a story about that core value in action.
  3. At weekly staff meetings. One executive boasted that his organization had 22 core values, and they were on posters throughout the office. Asked if he had any stories to illustrate, a little red faced he said “No.” Now every week at staff meeting they tell a story to illustrate one of the twenty-two core values.
  4. At company-wide meetings. Is it time to assemble all the troops? Maybe for a change in direction or for recognition? This is a perfect time for core value selling.
  5. On the company website. Promote core value stories on your website to detail for clients and potential clients the power of story.
  6. In company brochures and collateral material. Since stories connect on an emotional level, doesn’t it make sense to put them down in writing?

Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. Maybe that is why so many Fortune 500 companies are honing in on storytelling techniques and imparting that wisdom on their sales and business development professionals to tell relatable stories that will convince prospects.

Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, works with consultants to attract high-paying clients by marketing with a book and speech. As a professional speaker, he teaches sales and business development professionals how to build an inventory of persuasive stories. He is the author of “Marketing with a Book” and “Persuade with a Story!” For more information, visit www.indiebooksintl.com.

Satisfying a Demand for Dialog: Routine Employee Feedback is No Longer Optional

By Kate Zabriskie

Kate ZabriskieNot so long ago, most people in the workplace received feedback once-a-year during a performance review. An employee didn’t expect a development plan, a career track, or anyone to take an interest in his or her professional growth. That responsibility was often a solo activity. In fact, as recently as a couple of decades ago, there wasn’t a great deal of help on the road to career success, and most people didn’t complain. It simply was what it was.

But times change, and norms evolve. The practice of once-a-year feedback is fast becoming an anachronism and as out of place in the modern office as the fashions people once wore when holding those annual reviews.

The reason the average worker has evolved to expect a steady diet of attention and conversation is debatable and perhaps worth scholarly inquiry. In the meantime, however, a demand for dialog exists and must be answered.

So, why should managers take action, what does it take to establish and maintain an ongoing give-and-take, and how can managers balance the constant conversation with their own workplace responsibilities?

Why Bother to Give Regular Feedback

For some, accepting the new reality means moving past the fact that they came along when life was hard. Sorry, it’s time to get with the times, and get over it. Practices have evolved. If you don’t expect employees to accomplish their work with a typewriter and rotary-dial desk phone, then it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out that in addition to advances in technology, management practices have also improved.

First-class organizations have career paths, they invest in employee development, and their managers engage in regular dialog with their direct reports. Bottom line: If you want a top-notch worker, you better start acting like you know what to do with one.If you want a top-notch worker, you better start acting like you know what to do with one. Click To Tweet

How to Establish and Maintain a Dialog

Once you’ve bought into the notion that routine conversation is a must, the next step is knowing how to guide interactions.

1. Take an interest. Very little builds engagement as well as a manager who seems to genuinely care for people, promotes their success, and has the ability to develop them. This is not an annual affair. Rather, you’ve got to have a range of formal and informal conversations throughout the year. To get started, ask questions, and pay attention to the answers.

  • “What are you working on that’s exciting to you?”
  • “What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?”
  • “If you could eliminate parts of your work, what would you stop doing?”
  • “What used to be interesting to you that’s now become mundane or boring?”
  • “If you could try something professionally with limited chance of failure, what risks would you take?”
  • “Tell me a little about what first attracted you to this organization. Has anything changed about how you feel about your work here?”
  • “How do you feel about our interactions? Do I give your development the right amount of attention, and do you receive the right amount of feedback?”

There is no limit to the questions you could ask. The key is showing a sincere interest in the answers, withholding judgement about what you’re told, and taking action when you can.

2. Be observant. As a manager, your job is to focus on the work that gets done and how it gets done. When you pay attention and are specific with your feedback, you show you’ve spent time to notice what’s working and where opportunities exist. In other words, it’s important to communicate to people they matter to you.

  • “Tim, I thought the graphics you used on those PowerPoint slides were very strong. You chose the unexpected, stayed away from heavy text, and did something a little different than what we are used to seeing. I think your approach answered the challenge Roger gave us to think outside the box.”
  • “Gina, I’d like to talk with you about the report submitted this morning. Specifically, I want to discuss the proofreading process you’re following. I noticed a few errors, and I want to see if there is a way we can reduce the mistakes. If we could increase the accuracy of the reporting, I think we would improve our department’s credibility. Is now a good time for you, or should I schedule something for this afternoon?”

Finding the Time for Planned Dialog

There is no clock fairy or magic solution to time management and fitting feedback and development conversations into a regular workload. It’s an effort that requires discipline. To ensure planned dialog happens, you need to put formal meetings on a calendar, schedule them at regular intervals, show up on time, and put the smartphone away.

The Payoff

While increased levels of informal feedback and scheduled conversation can seem overwhelming at first, the more often a manager engages, the easier it is, the franker the discussions become, and the greater the understanding between the employee and the manager grows.

With whom should you be having conversations?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

10 High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Drive Higher Levels of Employee Engagement and Help Your Customers Love You!

By Curt Redden

We all seem to get it by now—more engaged employees perform at a higher level. The organizations that get their strategy right in this area provide a superior customer experience; have lower levels of employee churn, higher morale, and ultimately much higher financial performance. Their customers love them more! What are some things you can easily implement that will give you big lift in your levels of employee engagement with the lowest investment?

First, hire right. Making the right hire is well over half of the battle in your employee engagement levels. Hire people who believe what you believe, and have the attitude you want. Get that right, and the following ten ideas can help them thrive.

1. Embrace and Adopt a Strengths-Focused Culture. People excel in their areas of talent and strengths. You can find many assessments to help you in this area. But the key is focusing on people’s strengths first. Identify them, and then figure out how you can stretch them in those areas. Once it takes hold, it impacts decision-making, structuring project teams, and the particular talents are required for a specific project. It does not mean you ignore their weaknesses, but your people become more engaged when doing what they naturally do best.

2. Volunteerism and Company Support from Top-Down. It’s important to help the communities in which you serve. You cannot underestimate the impact of allowing your people to volunteer (yes, even on company time). It is beyond giving back, it is team building, networking, and uniting around a common problem to overcome obstacles. In regards to engagement levels, this is one of the highest-rated items on many Employee Engagement surveys, and it is a multiplier in terms of return on happier and more satisfied employees.

3. Make Friends At Work. Some of you may be skeptical, but according to the 2017 Gallup Study of the American Workplace, having a best friend at work has a high correlation with engagement and higher productivity. But how can your organizations help support this? Formally, you can embrace deeper mentoring programs and relationships. This should be aligned in initial onboarding so the mentor can assist and facilitate introductions, networking, and group activities. Informally, the more in and out of work activities that you can schedule aids in bonding, networking, and ultimately friendships.

4. Establish “Fun” Committees! Whatever you call or brand your internal efforts to schedule fun stuff, give it to the people who are passionate, and let them run. Never underestimate the impact of happy hours, food trucks, bowling and other fun activities to help your people get to know each other better on a personal level, and perform better in teams.

5. Flexibility. Wherever possible, err on the side of providing more flexibility for your people. You hired them so hopefully you trust them, and if you don’t you probably should not keep paying them. It is about the “job to be done” and not where it gets done from. Working from home a day or two a week or extending flex time goes a long way in helping people better balance their lives.

6. Contact with Senior Management. Leadership by simply walking around is a really big deal. Have your senior staff pop in on random employees to just see what they’re most excited about working on. Top organizations in engagement consistently show that access and informality with senior staff drives employees to feel more comfortable, enjoy their work more, and provide more discretionary effort.

7. Really Celebrate Successes and Wins. When someone does something awesome, find ways to recognize and reward the behavior you want. It is amazing how many employees still only get feedback primarily when they have done something wrong. So many leaders simply expect great performance, and then think they are providing fantastic coaching and leadership when they rip apart someone’s performance that screwed up. That management style is already going the way of the dinosaur if you are really looking to attract and retain the top employees of tomorrow.

8. Extend Trust to Get Trust. Play a game of “What Rule or Outdated Process Can We Kill?” Once a quarter, include in any regular scheduled meetings, “Keep it, or Kill” it as an exercise. Employees get to nominate rules or processes they believe do not add value. Leadership still has veto authority, but the goal should be able to kill at least one (and you can’t add one to replace it). There are so many areas you can see this have impact. Often times, entire rules and procedures are put in place to avoid a few exceptions. Again, if you trusted them enough to hire them…

9. Extend Trust to Get Trust (Part 2). Your people are on social media. While there are some specific instances of needed prohibition of access to some sites and/or personal devices, the best companies are moving towards the understanding that people are increasingly not separating their work and personal lives. Embrace this! Regarding social media specifically, encourage and help your people to be brand ambassadors on all platforms, not just the ones you think are for business.

10. Let Your People be Authentic and They Will be Their Best for You. We have finally reached a tipping point where the vast majority of organizations understand the value of diversity in their teams. They not only get it, they strive to leverage it for a competitive advantage. Appearance standards have shifted drastically of late, as many companies are now not only allowing, but encouraging, unique looks and individuality in their employees. Some companies are hesitant to permit their staff to work with visible tattoos, facial hair, or body piercings—especially if they are seeking to maintain a carefully curated brand—but where possible allow your people do be themselves. The key is getting and keeping the best talent, not the talent you thinks looks the best (unless that’s your goal). You should seek employees who are passionate, talented and believe in what you believe. Those are the ones who become truly engaged and deliver the ultimate customer experience and help build the brand you deserve.

All ten of these tips can help you immediately in your employee engagement efforts at a relatively low cost. The key differentiator for organizations moving forward will be in how they become an employer of choice for pool of top talent. It is not just about happy and satisfied employees—it is about those who are able to bring their best effort and energy to work each day. Those are the ones who become truly engaged and deliver the ultimate customer experience and help you build the loyalty you deserve.

Curt Redden is a speaker, talent-development expert, and co-author of Going PRIMAL, A Layered Approach to Creating the Life You Desire. Curt has spent more than twenty-five years working to support and encourage employees as they strive for success. He currently is the head of global talent development for a Fortune 50 company. He is also certified by the Association for Talent Development as a master trainer and performance-improvement consultant. For more information on Curt Redden, please visit: www.primalsuccess.com.