Smart Tips & Ideas

Check out these talent strategy tips and ideas for recruiting the best, helping people reach their potential, and maintaining a solid team.

Screening and Hiring

Use behavioral interview questions. These types of open-ended questions usually start with phrases like “Tell us about a time when…” or “Give us an actual example of…” The queries are designed to draw out the candidate’s level of development in one or more of the competencies you included in the selection criteria. They also show whether the applicant can think on their feet, which is an ability you’d want in just about any employee.

Job recruiters are increasingly using social media to replace their own networks. The best place to start is by creating a strong company page on LinkedIn for experienced workers, and on Facebook for younger folks. Add a page with job listings and a form so people can apply online. And keep things fresh with regular postings about company news, insider views about the workplace and the industry, and helpful tips and advice. You can even track key metrics to improve the quality of social media interaction.

Take the team approach. For second interviews, include two or more stakeholders in the process, with one chosen to take the lead. Afterwards, having several people discuss how the candidate fits into your talent strategy can be much more enlightening than relying on the impressions and personal preferences of a sole interviewer.

Do you find yourself explaining the nature of your organization to interviewees…over and over again? Email them in advance links to your website, including specific, relevant pages, and save yourself some time later. Of course, smart candidates will do this homework without this prompting. In fact, the very best will show up armed with thoughtful, specific questions that are based on their research.

How do you know whether a candidate’s resume and what they tell you in an interview is accurate or truthful? The most common misrepresentations are about past accomplishments, interpersonal attributes and their own weaknesses. Having the jobseeker complete a ‘total person assessment’ will let you compare them with an established performance model. For questionable applicants who don’t match the model, the system generates specific interview questions that you can use to drill deeper.

You might have superb interviewing skills. But accurate predictions of future behavior, performance and job fit are unlikely to be unearthed in such a short session. Here’s a better idea: use a ‘total person assessment’ to discover, for example, that an applicant may have weak problem solving skills. Then you can employ specific behavioral questions to confirm this for yourself. By comparison, a “one size fits all” set of interview questions seems inefficient and limited.

What is it that makes your top performers special? And how do you find those qualities in future job candidates? It’s simple. Have your brightest stars, and a sampling of average workers, both complete a ‘performance-based assessment.’ By comparing key indicators side by side, you’ll quickly identify the attributes that are associated with success. Then when a job candidate completes the same assessment, you’ll easily see whether they have the necessary qualities of a top performer.

Do candidate interviews take up too much of your time? Then pre-screen applicants with a few key questions over the phone. You could quickly learn whether the experience listed on their resume matches your specific needs. You’ll find out whether their salary expectations are out of line. And you’ll gain a sense of whether their personality will fit your culture. Those who don’t make that first cut won’t be wasting your time with an in-person interview. And you won’t be wasting theirs.

Are your employees stealing from the workplace? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that about 75% do, at one time or another. But a ‘pre-employment assessment’ can measure attitudes toward personal integrity and related factors. Armed with this data, and the specific interview questions that are generated, you can weed out those who might have cost the company a lot more than their salary.

Managing and Developing

Acknowledge the positive. Most employees will say that they get negative feedback more than positive feedback, when they get any feedback at all. A compliment or an ‘attaboy’ can easily make someone’s day, but managers tend to be so busy with their own job that they simply don’t think of it. And remember, when you’re generous with praise, people will take your criticisms more seriously, and with less resentment.

Employees tend to be more engaged and loyal when they have some ‘say’ in their own department or their own roles. What non-crucial decisions can you let employees make either individually, or through a group vote? Be sure to let them know how important their input is. Remember, managing people with inclusiveness doesn’t reduce your power as a supervisor; it actually builds their respect for you.

Ongoing conflict between managers and their employees can make life miserable for everyone. Did you know that a ‘managerial fit assessment’ can help predict whether a certain employee will work well under a certain manager? When there are already conflicts in a team, these assessments can also offer insights that point to actionable solutions. The whole process is completed relatively quickly, but the peace and collaboration in the department goes on and on.

Four Questions To Ask Before Paying For an Employee’s Training: (A) How will this training affect your current projects or role? (B) Is this training part of a larger learning goal; i.e. a certification or degree? (C) Can you describe how you researched this course or education provider to demonstrate that the content is useful and cost effective? (D) Are you willing to present to your peers a summary of the key learning outcomes from this training?

Before awarding a promotion, give the employee temporary tasks or assignments that are similar to those that will be expected of them in that higher position. This can include them managing people on a limited basis. In addition to assessing their performance, sit down and ask them about what was enjoyable, challenging or uncomfortable about that experience, and what they learned from it.

Employees may have hidden talents that they themselves might not even know about. For example, an executive’s number 2 person might be great at conflict resolution, but you’d never know it without a ‘motivational assessment.’ With the same assessment, her boss might prove to be too timid to deal with workplace conflicts, but have other untapped abilities. The more you know about your people, the more power you have to create a happy, productive workplace

Performance appraisals may be common in today’s companies, but coaching offers 150% greater return on investment. Successful coaching focuses on behaviors that need improvement, not the person themselves. It shows confidence in the worker’s ability to resolve the issue. And it means asking for their help in doing so, rather than criticizing or threatening. When you ask, “how do you think the situation should be handled?” they’re more likely to ‘rise up’ and want to do better at their job.

Engaging and Retaining

Why are so many employees leaving? Compare your company’s salaries and benefits with industry averages to make sure they haven’t fallen behind during the past couple of years. This is especially an issue with scarce or high-level skills. Sometime organizations go for years without gathering this important data; competitive compensation levels should be part of any firm’s talent strategy.

Ask the hard questions. If a mid-level manager is constantly replacing vanishing employees, the executive above them needs to look take a careful, unbiased look at whether that manager they hired is the root of the problem. Executives sometimes resist admitting this, because it implies they made a mistake. But a true leader will do what’s necessary and move on.

Can you tell whether your employees are truly engaged and satisfied with their job? With an ‘employee engagement assessment,’ it’s possible to make this determination. Since less-satisfied workers, including top-performers, are more likely to leave, you can use the assessment results to determine what it’ll take to keep them in the fold. Since the most common cause for quitting is a poor relationship with one’s immediate supervisor, a ‘managerial fit’ assessment can also help you head off a defection before it happens.

What are some other retention strategies? Hold quarterly development planning meetings to understand workers’ short- and long-term aspirations. If they feel they’re going nowhere in their jobs, they’re more likely to go elsewhere. For issues that are hard for them to articulate, you can learn more about their ‘hidden needs’ through a ‘motivational assessment.’ This will allow you to address those simmering stresses and dissatisfactions before that valued worker hands in their notice.

Global Peak Solutions Managing Partner Conrad Norman has plenty more of these professional insights on hiring and managing people. And he’d be glad to share them with you. Read Conrad’s story.


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