Category Archives: Hiring Talent

High Potential

They are called hi-po’s. High potential individuals. We often have a hiring need NOW, but we really want a candidate with the potential to grow, grow and grow some more. These individuals, sought by every company, have the potential to make or break the organization.

We want candidates with potential. How do we spot potential?

  • Oh, I know ’em when I see ’em.
  • Reminds me of me, when I was young.
  • Fast talker, fast tracker.
  • Sometimes, I can just see it in their eyes.

I will never make a hiring decision, or a promotion decision based on anything other than evidence. No assumptions, no hunches, no hopes.

Some might say then, I will pass over those with high potential, because potential is always on the come. Potential is only a future possibility.

I will never make a hiring decision based on anything other than evidence. If I am looking for someone with potential, I look for evidence of potential. Two things – error rate and deadlines.

Low error rate and always meets deadlines, potential.

High error rate, frequently late, next candidate, please.

Attract the Right Candidates

“Our problem is, we don’t have enough candidates respond to our job posting,” lamented Joanna. “Or the people who show up aren’t even close to the type of person we need to fill the position.”

“Let’s see,” I asked.

Looking for a construction Job Superintendent with 3-5 years experience. Must have positive attitude and ability to relate to building owners. Knowledge of permitting process in South Florida helpful. Health insurance and 401k. Must be a team player.

“And how would you describe the current pool of applicants? Do they have the required experience?”

Joanna nodded, “They have 3-5 years experience, but they aren’t very energetic. They wouldn’t last around here for more than a week.”

“Tell me Joanna, what kind of energy do you have in the posting? Does the writing portray the sense of urgency that goes on around here? Let’s put a little zip in the step.”

Commercial contractor in South Florida looking for a top-flight Job Superintendent. Our clients demand a quick-response person in this critical position. We work under tough building codes with stringent enforcement, so ability to get along with inspectors is important. Aggressive compensation and benefits package are part of the deal. Send us your resume or apply online through the employment section of our website. We need you now, let us hear from you today.

The Glory of Chaos

[Our online program – Hiring Talent 2018 kicks off April 16. More information here. Only two spots left.]

From the Ask Tom mailbag-

Question:
You said a growing company has to slow down and describe the work. You nailed our company – we miss deadlines, too much rework, a warranty claim, turnover, morale is tense, managers are nervous. Yet, we have more incoming work than we can handle. And all you can say is – we need to slow down and describe the work?

Response:
Or you can stay in the chaos. Somehow, you will manage to get through the day. You will settle your warranty claim, but the tension will remain.

You cannot work faster, harder or longer to solve this problem. You have to re-trench. This is fundamental blocking and tackling. It starts with describing the work in the role, documented in a role description (fundamental blocking and tackling).

A project manager with three projects is level (II) work. The work is coordinating and scheduling all the elements of the project. There is level (II) decision making and problem solving.

A project manager with 50 projects is level (III) work. It requires a system and a team. The decision making is not about project management. There are too many projects. The decision making is about the system of project management. The problem-solving is not about project management. The problem-solving is about the system of project management.

Or, you can stay in the chaos.

Not a Mis-hire

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
Thanks for your blog – I read it regularly and share a few posts with others.

There are definite hiring/management issues at my new job. Been working here, now, 5 months and have seen 10 people let go, or people finding other places to work. Would make your head spin! I feel bad for the people because I feel most were mis-hired. Some are management-employee issues, some personal issues as well. There is always the feeling here that you can be easily replaced.

Response:
It is not unusual for a company, especially a growing company, to experience high levels of turnover. New roles are created. More headcount into existing roles. A growing company is not used to robust levels of on-boarding, orientation and training. It is enough to make your head spin.

The organization has to slow down. In its effort to go fast, it will over-spin its capacity, encounter quality issues, rework and missed deadlines. It has to slow down to go fast.

It is not just more work to be done. As volume increases, so does the level of work. Project management working three simultaneous projects requires different decision making and different problem solving than project management working 50 simultaneous projects. A growing company expects a project manager to make the leap without acknowledging that it is a different level of work, requiring a higher level of capability.

A growing company, in the midst of this dilemma, begins to look for magic potions, command and control unconsciously emerges. Hours get longer, fatigue sets in. In an effort to go faster, turnover becomes an increasing statistic.

The problem appears to be mis-hiring defective people, when the truth is, the hiring manager failed to understand the increased level of work in the role. It’s not just more work, it is different work. Not defective people, defective roles.

Slow down, describe the work.

[Our online program – Hiring Talent 2018 kicks off April 16. More information here]

Hiring Talent – 2018 – Online Workshop

Hiring Talent 2018 is accepting applications for our online workshop on hiring. We kick off our first session April 16, 2018.

Application Process
Applicants must be in a hiring manager role, an HR role or a member of a hiring team. Applicants can find out more about this online program and complete the enrollment form here.

Purpose of this program – to train hiring managers and HR specialists to conduct more effective interviews in the context of a managed hiring process.

How long is the program? Designed to be completed in 4-6 weeks, the program is self-paced so participants can work through the program even faster.

How do people participate in the program? Participants complete online assignments and participate in online facilitated discussions, working with an expert online coach and other participants.

Who should participate? This program is designed for managers and HR professionals who play active roles in the recruiting process.

What is the cost? The program investment is $599. Vistage members receive a $100 discount per participant.

When is the program scheduled? This program is self-paced, on-demand, so participants can login and complete assignments on their own schedule.

How much time is required to participate in this program? Participants should reserve approximately 2 hours per week (on demand) for 4 weeks (total 8 hours).

Program Description
Module One – Role Descriptions – It’s All About the Work
Learning Objectives

  • Examine what hiring managers are up against.
  • Define the steps in a comprehensive hiring process.
  • Specifically define the Role Description as the cornerstone of the hiring process.
  • Define the Structure of the Role Description
  • Write a Role Description

Module Two – Interviewing for Future Behavior
Learning Objectives

  • To understand how most managers conduct interviews, so we can stop bad habits.
  • To identify, from the Role Description, the specific data we need from the candidate.
  • To design questions to capture the data we need to make an effective candidate selection.
  • To construct a bank of organized, written, prepared questions on which to base the interview.

Module Three – Conducting the Interview
Learning Objectives

  • To prepare mentally to conduct an effective interview.
  • To practice asking prepared questions and creating clarifying questions during the interview.
  • To practice taking notes during the interview and re-capping those notes following the interview.
  • To create a Decision Matrix to compile interview data and compare candidates.
  • To effectively work with an Interview Team.

To apply for this program please complete the enrollment form here.

Might Still Be Legal In NY

In the area of behavior modification, the most, perhaps only, effective means are psychotropic drugs and frontal lobotomies, which may still be legal in some places in New York.

There are so many round people in square roles. Get out of the behavior modification business and get into the talent selection business.

The most effective managers are not those who are expert in motivation, or coaching, or process improvement. The most effective managers are those that are expert at defining roles and selecting the right people to fill those roles.

Look at your team. How long have you been trying to modify behavior? Any wonder why this is driving you nuts. Stop it. Get better at selecting talent, then go build your team.

Treat People Like Machines

It took six months to make the decision to spend $65,000 on a new machine. It replaced another older machine that had finally retired. A committee conducted research on the new board technology. Another team of two shopped lease arrangements and term equipment loans. The transition team worked hard to determine how work-in-process would be diverted during the installation and burn-in period. The training department coordinated a technician training program with the manufacturer. This equipment purchase was going to be a real game breaker.

What I was most interested in was the last Project Manager hired into the company. The salary was about the same, $65,000. Three people were involved in the interview process, but when I looked at the documentation from those interviews, it was mostly subjective statements:

  • I think he has a good personality and will fit in well with our culture.
  • In the next five years, he wants to excel in project management. That’s what we need him for.
  • Demonstrated a great attitude the during the interview.

The job description was a photocopy of a similar position with some notes scratched on the bottom. The training program consisted of shadowing another project manager for two days. So there is no wonder that the new Project Manager was NOT going to be a real game breaker.

Perhaps we should create a process that takes recruiting as serious as buying a piece of equipment. We would do well to treat our people as well as we do our machines.

Where Management Trouble Begins

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
In your workshop last week, you stressed the importance of a role description. To be honest, we don’t really have time to write them. We either use an old version from HR, get something off the internet, or use our posting from Craig’s List.

Response:
And, that’s where the trouble begins. The reason we have so much difficulty with issues related to motivation and management is that we don’t accurately define the work. The role description is the cornerstone document –

  • Defines the work, the outputs, the expectations in the role.
  • Organizes the bank of interview questions.
  • Creates the basis for behavioral interview questions.
  • Structures the decision making process for selecting from the candidate pool.
  • Structures the monthly (or more frequent) 1-1 conversation between the team member and the manager.
  • Structures a performance improvement plan, when necessary.
  • Provides grounds for termination, when necessary.

It’s all about the work. Our problems begin when we don’t accurately define the work. What are the decisions to be made, problems to be solved in the role?

Embedding Culture as a Key Result Area

Some time ago, writing a role description, I added Culture as a Key Result Area (KRA). What is the accountability of a manager in the Key Result Area of Company Culture?

There are several frames in which to look at company culture –
That unwritten set of rules that governs our required behavior in the work that we do together. It is an unwritten set of rules in contrast to our written set of rules, policies, procedures. And, culture is often more powerful than any policy we may write or attempt to officially enforce. Sometimes, culture even works against our stated policy.

What is the accountability of a manager in the Key Result Area of Company Culture?

These are the four questions in the Culture Cycle.

  1. What is the source of culture, where does it start?
  2. How is culture visible, how do we see it?
  3. How is culture tested?
  4. How is culture institutionalized, reinforced and perpetuated?

What is the source of culture, where does it start?
The source of culture is the way we see the world. It includes our bias, our experience, our interpretation of our experience. Culture is the story we carry into our experience that provides the lens, the frame, the tint, the brightness or darkness of that story.

How is culture visible, how do we see it?
Culture, the way we see the world, drives our behavior. We cannot see our bias. We cannot see our interpretation. We cannot see the story we carry in our minds, but, we can see our behavior. Culture drives behavior. Behavior makes culture visible.

How is culture tested?
Behavior, driven by culture, is constantly tested against the reality of consequences. For better or worse, behaviors driven by culture are proven valid, or not. Where there is congruence between behavioral intentions and the test of consequences, intentions (the way we see the world) moves forward. Where there is a disconnect between behavioral intentions and the test of consequences, intentional culture stops DEAD.

How is culture institutionalized, reinforced and perpetuated?
Those behaviors that survive the test of consequences become institutionalized, for better or worse. Positive behaviors that survive the test against reality can become the customs and rituals that reinforce the way we see the world. Alternatively, counterproductive behaviors that survive can be institutionalized in the underground of our organization and will prevail, more powerful than our official rules and enforcement.

You get to decide. What is the accountability of a manager in the Key Result Area of Company Culture?

Key Areas for a Project Manager

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
I was in your workshop last week. When you look at qualified candidates for a role, you say “It’s all about the work.” We are looking at a project management role. What do you consider the three most important parts of project management?

Response:
Project Management is a classic Strata II role. From a macro level, it involves the coordination of people, materials, equipment and project sequence. Three core Key Result Areas (KRAs) drive the project forward.

  1. Project Planning (creating a comprehensive project plan including milestones and accountabilities).
  2. Task Checklist (documenting and tracking all the details for completion and quality).
  3. Project Schedule (creating and monitoring the project schedule, prioritizing and sequencing time frames associated with changing elements of a project).

The value adds for Project Management are project control, accuracy to project specifications, timeliness and completeness.

Other KRAs would include –

  • Pre-con Hand-off Meeting (critical meeting where pre-construction hands the project over to project management).
  • Punch List (audit of the project checklist, when everyone else thinks the project is complete).
  • Buy Out (assembling the list of material suppliers and subcontractors, with competitive cost information).
  • Customer Relations (creating the necessary customer relationship that addresses project discrepancies, project change orders and avoids litigation)

All of these would make the basis for a comprehensive role description for your Project Manager. -Tom