Tag Archives: hiring

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.

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.

Don’t Play Amateur Psychologist

From the Ask Tom mailbag – gleaned from a colleague’s mail list.

Question:
Do you have anything on Meta Competencies, if you have never heard of them, they’re personal indicators of future potential for higher up jobs. All part of our talent management project, which is based on “being good enough at your current job doesn’t mean you have potential to do a higher up job.”

Response:
This is a noble question which leads us astray for the answer. It is a sucker punch which assumes there is a psychological indicator for human potential. The question invites us (managers) to climb inside the head of a candidate or team member. But, once inside this head, most managers will find themselves on shaky ground. That psychology course in high school or college will abandon them. Few managers have degrees in psychology, advanced degrees or are certified to practice psychotherapy, yet here they are, inside the head of a candidate, looking for a “personal indicator of future potential.”

An alternate course, to answer this question, to identify “potential to do a higher up job” starts with how to define “a higher up job.” Talking about the job, talking about the work, now, most managers are on solid ground. Most managers can easily identify a “higher up job.” And that is where the answer is. Don’t try to climb inside the head of the candidate, focus on the work.

While we have an intuitive sense of a “higher up job,” until we can accurately define levels of work, identifying potential in a candidate will remain elusive, and indeed, allow psychologists to try to sell us all sorts of magical assessments. The instant we can accurately identify levels of work, we can get great clarity on human potential.

Focus on the work. Managers are experts on work. Let me borrow an insight from Lee Thayer. “The best measure of performance is performance.” Hint, this is NOT a circular reference.

The best measure of potential is evidence of potential (the original question). A person with potential will leave clues. All we have to do is see the clues. “Being good enough at your current job doesn’t mean you have potential to do a higher up job.” The answer is simple. Give the person a higher level of work. The best method to test a person’s potential is project work. Given a higher level of (project) work, the candidate will either effectively handle it, or not. The best measure of performance is performance.

Stop playing amateur psychologist and focus on the work. It’s all about the work.

Management Myths and Time Span

In 2001, I stumbled over some startling research.  For two years, I privately shared this research with two of my executive peer groups, who encouraged me to take it on the road.  In 2003, I presented the first public workshop called Management Myths and Time Span to a group in Plymouth MN.  Ten years and 350 presentations later, this workshop makes it to my own hometown.

Here is the press going out.

Every CEO, executive and manager struggles with this hidden key to performance, find out why!  Do any of these apply to you?

[ ] A Project Manager Blows the Deadline?  Again?
And you have to call the customer to explain that the project will be late.  There is no reason for the delay, just an excuse.

[ ] Your Top Performer Got Promoted to Manager.  Now Failing.
She has been with the company for 12 years, promoted to a game-breaker role.  What happened?  She is loyal.  Everyone likes her.  She is floundering.

[ ] You Sent Him to Manager Training.  The Same Person Came Back.
Your high hopes for this young manager are dashed.  He showed such promise.  Or did he?

[ ] A manager got promoted to his level of incompetence, WHY?
Unlock and understand the Secret behind the Peter Principle.

November 20, 2013
Everglades University
Boca Raton, FL
Management Myths and Time Span
Reserve Now

On Wednesday, November 20, Tom Foster will present the 50 years of scientific findings of Elliott Jaques.  According to Foster, “This is the missing link to human capability. This missing link is based on a simple principle and touches every element of a manager’s work.”

Date – Wednesday, November 20, 2013
8:00 – Coffee
8:30 – Program begins
Noon – Adjourn

Reserve today $200 Only $99*
Seating is limited to 60 participants.
* Vistage/TEC Member guest discount

We select our top performer and promote them to the next level, introduce them to the team as their new leader, only to find them floundering and earning no respect.

In the hopes of filling a position in the corporate org chart, we diligently interview, do personality testing and check references. We hire the person with the best of intentions only to find them failing after a few short weeks.

You just promoted Sally — she is now in your office complaining that her new boss has his head in the clouds and is completely out of touch with the real problems facing the department. Ten minutes later, Sally’s boss, Joe, is in your office complaining about Sally, his new direct report, saying that she is totally incompetent and cannot see the big picture. What did we miss?

Tom Foster will present the research and statistically significant scientific findings of the late Elliott Jaques, the psychologist who discovered a correlation between workers across industries and their internal capability to handle different levels of work.

Particular areas that will be addressed are:

  • Most hiring managers underestimate the level of capability required for success in the role.
  • Personality conflicts in an organization are often smokescreens for a misalignment in structure.
  • Most CEOs mis-understand the true nature of executive work and often, are drawn into activity that pulls them away from higher-levels of work.
  • The flat organization is a misguided management fad — organizational hierarchy is essential and exists for very specific reasons.

Note: Participants may find it helpful to bring a current organization chart, starting with the CEO and driving down three levels.  And if they exist, a short paragraph description for the CEO role and each senior management position.

 Biography: Tom Foster works mostly with CEOs in executive peer groups.  He conducts classroom training for managers and supervisors in the areas of delegation, planning and communication skills. He spent 14 years in the television production industry and another 10 years with a large CPA firm. A Vistage Chair since 1995 and former trainer with Dale Carnegie Training, Tom holds a B.S. in radio-television-film and a master’s degree in communication, both from the University of Texas at Austin.

Reserve your space now.

How to Hire an Energetic Project Manager

“We think our problem is not having enough candidates respond to our ad in the newspaper,” lamented Joanna. “Or maybe it’s just that the people who show up aren’t even close to the type of person we need to fill the position.”

“First, let’s look at your ad,” I said, reaching across the desk.

Looking for a construction Project Manager 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 applicants you are getting? Do they have the required experience?”

Joanna nodded, “Oh, yes, 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 think you have in the ad? Does the writing portray the sense of urgency that goes on around here?”

“Well, not really,” she replied.

“Let’s try to put a little zip in the step.”

Commercial contractor in South Florida looking for a top-flight Project Manager. 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.

“Now, that’s better.”

How Do You Deal with Arrogance?

“Why the long face?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Curtis replied. “I mean, I know why I have a long face, I just don’t know what to do about it?”

“Tell me more?”

“I have a guy in a project manager role, that I believe is over his head. Most things, he does okay, but there are times when he falls short, and I have to come to the rescue. That’s not so bad, but he is just so arrogant when things don’t go as they should.”

“What do you mean, arrogant?” I pressed.

“Well, let’s say the project is rolling along, we are about 80 percent finished, he seems to just drop the ball, like the project is finished. But the last part of project is where all the problems are. Lingering details that if they don’t get buttoned up, the project drags past the deadline. The client gets upset. We can’t send an invoice, because there are still outstanding items. We may have even pulled the crew off the job and then find out there are still incomplete issues hanging out there.”

“I thought you said the problem was arrogance?”

“That’s what I mean. The client calls me, usually hot under the collar. I confront the project manager and he starts blaming all kinds of people for things he should have under control. He acts like following up on those last few details are beneath him, that he can’t be bothered. Sometimes, he even says the client shouldn’t be so upset over something so minor, that the client should be glad that we did such a good job on the rest of the project. Then he complains that the work crew should have picked up those details and that if we would just hire better people, then I would be able to see just what a good project manager he is. When he is talking like this, he gets loud, insistent, just plain arrogant.”

“Tell me,” I nodded, “is this project manager effective on the projects you have assigned to him? Can he make the grade, based on his performance?”

“No,” Curtis explained. “On smaller projects he does okay, but these longer projects, he falls short.”

“If your project manager can’t make the grade, based on his performance, then how does he survive on your team?”

Curtis began to shake his head. “You are right, he survives, because I hate to confront him. Sometimes, I even cover for him with the client, just so I don’t have to talk to him. He becomes arrogant, so I won’t talk to him, that’s how he survives.”

“So, he engages in arrogant behavior because he is mis-matched in a role that is over his head. Instinctively, he knows. Instinctively, he tries to survive as best he can. Arrogance has probably worked for him in this circumstance, most of his life, so, as a coping behavior, he can survive. Who put him in this role?”

Curtis smiled. “I did.” Several seconds elapsed before he continued. “I guess I am the one that has to fix this.”

“I believe so. You are the manager. What is your plan? What do you think you will do? What will be your first step?”

How to Interview for a Bad Attitude

“We hire people for their technical skills, but we fire them for who they are.” Russell complained.

“Tell me more. What do you mean you fire them for who they are?” I asked.

“Well, they may have the right experience, know how to handle the technical part of the job, but their attitude is a little out of whack. In the beginning, attitude doesn’t show up, but after a couple of months, little things appear. After six months, this strange behavior actually begins to flourish and it’s downhill from there.”

“What do mean, strange behavior?” I was getting curious.

“Sometimes, it’s people skills. They are a little gruff at first, then a couple of people get on their bad side. Pretty soon, they become downright rude. They publicly dress people down in meetings. No one can disagree with them without a huge public confrontation.”

“Do you interview to discover this type of behavior?”

“No, usually the person is pretty well coached by a headhunter on how to handle the interview, so we don’t find out until later.” Russell stopped, his brow furrowed. “You mean you can interview for a bad attitude?”

I nodded.

“What? You can’t just ask them if they have a bad attitude,” Russell protested.

“Tell me, when does bad attitude show itself?”

“It usually stays hidden. It stays hidden, until there is a confrontation, a disagreement, a difficult problem that can’t be solved.”

“So, you can’t ask directly about attitude, but can you ask about a time when there was a disagreement on a project, a time when there was difficult problem that couldn’t be solved?” I wanted to know.

“I suppose,” Russell listened.

“For all the soft side, like attitude, character traits, just think about how that attitude will emerge as a behavior. I ask myself – How does a person with that attitude behave? Then I interview for that behavior.”

How Do You Interview for Teamwork?

“There is just something about this candidate that I can’t put my finger on,” Wendy was skeptical. “Everything checks out. This person has the technical skills, the necessary experience, seems enthusiastic, but there is something. On paper, this person should be hired, but my gut is telling me otherwise.”

“You have covered the bases on my list,” I replied. “But I would trust your intuition. Which is it?

  • Capability
  • Skill
  • Interest, Passion (value for the work)
  • Reasonable Behavior

“Which is it?”

“What do you mean, reasonable behavior?” Wendy wanted to know.

“It’s important what a person knows, technical knowledge. It’s important how a person feels toward the work, interest or passion. But to complete the tasks in the role, the person has to do something. It’s about behavior. Are there habits that people have that contribute to their effectiveness? Like always showing up early for work?”

“Yes, habits are important,” Wendy agreed.

“And do we have cultural norms for our behavior in the work that we do around here?”

Wendy nodded. “I think you got it. That’s it. We have a very strong team culture. Every company says teamwork is important, but around here, it is critical. Some of the work we do is dangerous. Every person here depends on their team members to work safely. Their lives depend on it.”

“So, if culture is that unwritten set of rules that governs our behavior in the work that we do together, what does your intuition tell you about this candidate?” I asked.

“Everything story the candidate told was about himself. I mean, the interview was obviously about the candidate, but every accomplishment seems like it was single-handedly performed. I never heard the word ‘we’ during the whole interview.”

“So, your intuition is telling you something, related to reasonable behavior. What additional questions do you want to ask?”

“Working together as a team is a critical role requirement,” Wendy explained. “I need to know how this candidate works with other people. It is as important as any of the technical skills.”

“What questions will you ask?”

“Thinking out loud, here is my list,” Wendy replied.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where teamwork was important?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people were on your team?
  • What was your role on the team?
  • What were the factors that made teamwork important?
  • What were the factors that put pressure on the team to work together?”
  • When the team worked well together, what were they doing?
  • When the team began to crack, when they didn’t work well together, what were they doing?
  • What was the outcome of the project?”
  • Tell me about another project, where teamwork was important?

“That ought to be a good start.” she smiled.
_____
I need some help from iPad users. How many of you are buying books out of the iBookstore as opposed to the Kindle app for iPad? Hiring Talent is available on Kindle, but I am thinking about publishing through the iBookstore.

Why People Are Not Our Most Important Asset

I had a couple of minutes in the lobby, so I was looking at all the teamwork posters on the wall.

Our people are our most important asset!!

I had seen this poster a hundred times, but for the first time, it struck me as odd. I was working with the management team to find a new Senior Project Manager. The last one didn’t work out so well and by the time they figured it out, they almost lost their biggest customer. I was having difficulty getting them to spend the right amount of time on the job description, defining the management skills necessary for this position. The last guy had the technical skills, but none of the management skills.

As I entered the conference room, I asked the management team if they agreed with the poster in the lobby. Being politically correct, they were quite enthusiastic in their support.

I reminded them of Collins book Good to Great and asked them again, “Are our people our greatest asset?”

This team has been around me for a while, so they know when I ask a question a second time, their first response may need some rethinking. As I looked around the table, I could see the wheels churning. Finally, someone took a stab at it.

“Our people may not be our greatest asset. The right people are our greatest asset. The wrong person may be our biggest liability.”

“Good,” I replied. “Sometimes it takes a bad hire for us to realize how important this up-front work is. So, let’s get to work. What is the capability required for the level of work? What are the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary for success in this position?”