6 Signs War for Talent is Heating Up

The jobs are out there. Companies just can’t find the workers to fill them. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 3.2 million jobs remained vacant as of the end of July, even as 14 million Americans were jobless.

This paradox was highlighted in an article posted in the recent issue of Central Penn Business Journal.

Winning The Talent WarThe article includes several interviews with local business executives whose growth is stymied by a lack of qualified workers, not a struggling economy. One owner, whose tool-and-die company doubled in size in the last three years, says he posts jobs in the newspaper and online job banks to no avail. Other executives echoed the challenge especially those leading manufacturing firms in heavy industry, food processing, and trucking.

More and more stories seem to be cropping up, especially in the small business sector. Despite large organizations like Bank of America announcing massive layoffs, a new survey reveals a compelling message for employers who might be feeling a bit complacent in adapting a new environment for recruiting and retaining qualified workers: high unemployment does not equate with ease of hiring.

Here’s 6 signs that the war for talent is heating up:

  • 77 percent of companies surveyed expect hiring competition to increase;
  • One-third of the companies expect significantly more competition for talent;
  • 47 percent currently recruit from competitors; another 14 percent plan to start;
  • 57 percent of employers are concerned with competitors recruiting their employees;
  • 58 percent use recruiting passive candidates as their leading strategy for competing against other employers; (54 percent use benefits; 47 percent use flexible hours; 30 percent use higher compensation.)
  • One-third of employers expect new employees to stay 2 years or less; 79 percent expect them to stay 3 to 5 years or less.

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This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

How Safe Are Personality Tests?

Many people still believe personality tests are illegal and that their use exposes an How Safe Are Personality Tests?employer to more risk. But a new research paper titled Legal Risk in Selection: An analysis of processes and tools presented at the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology conference dispels many of the lingering myths associated with using personality and other employee tests.

The research findings reviewed EEOC and OFCCP cases settled both in and out of court between 1998 and 2010. Two key areas were covered: (1) type of selection test and (2) the hiring process.

Based on the findings, personality and other psychometric tests do carry some risk. But in nearly every case, the challenge did not involve the validity or reliability of the test but how the assessment was used. For example, according to Dr. Charles Handler, one of the most respected authorities on employee selection, “Cases that went to trial around selection devices were decided for the plaintiff only 28% of the time, vs. 68% for those related to the selection process, meaning that process issues are more likely to land an employer in hot water.”

Cases related to inconsistent process accounted for the largest percentage of all process related cases and over half of these were settled prior to court. A whopping 91% of all inconsistent process cases were found to be discriminatory.

Some examples of process related cases that were lost include:

  • In Dennis v Columbia Colleton Medical Center (2002), the U.S. Court of Appeals described the hospital’s selection process as “a peculiarly informal process” because their explanations for not hiring the plaintiff were different from the written job description, giving the decision “a flavor of post-hoc rationalizations.”
  • In Dunlap v Tennessee Valley Authority (2008), the court determined the company’s hiring process was discriminatory because they found 70 counts of manipulating test scores and changing interview and test scores in candidate rankings.
  • In Allen v Tobacco Superstore (2007), the company relied on word of mouth to publicize open positions and had no consistent procedures for advancement; employees simply asked a supervisor to be considered. The court found the word-of-mouth hiring and promotion process – which resulted in a company-wide dearth of Black store managers despite operating in communities with large Black populations – was discriminatory.

Here’s a checklist of things HR and hiring managers must do to lower the risk of discrimination and improve the success of their hiring process.

1. Use a structured interview. According to Dr. Handler, “if you are not using a structured interview process, you have a problem.” I couldn’t agree more. The casual, off-the-cuff interview is not only poor risk management but not very predictable when selecting employees.

2. Be consistent. Interview questions must be consistent with job relatedness. Even if the interview questions are structured and managers trained in behavioral interviewing, it doesn’t mean the questions are job related (Dennis v Columbia Colleton Medical Center (2002). The same goes for the job board ad or word of mouth referral programs you use. If you write an ad or ask a question related to a responsibility or skill that is not required for the job, you open the door wider for adverse impact claims to step in.

3. Remain objective. Pre-employment testing  IS legal. It’s also a best practice with positive results reported time and time again. Testing is not an astrology or voodoo-like experience but a scientifically proven practice that leads to better hiring results without increasing the risk of adverse discrimination.

Using pre-employment tests for the right reasons (job-relatedness) is the equivalent of having a skilled, unbiased, third party manager interview candidates. Many pre-employment assessments also include job-related interview questions, based on candidate results. These questions structure the interview and keep the focus on job-relatedness.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

Personal Styles That Bias Performance Reviews.

Performance reviews, one of the most dreaded managerial responsibilities, are difficult enough to do without personal bias getting in the way. What follows are highlights about how your personal style, identified using the DISC behavioral model, might get in the way of effectively managing your employees.

DISC Personality and Behavior Assessment Profile

“D”s prefer to evaluate others by how well they meet the standards and challenges set forth by the “D.” The amount of work accomplished by others must meet the “D’s” expectations. They tend to set demanding standards for themselves and will seek out who do likewise. However, they will become impatient when employees don’t do what was expected and even more competitive when people surpass them. They tend to set stretch goals. When an employee isn’t doing well, high “D”s don’t have much problem relaying bad news and discipline. But their sometimes abrupt, just-get-it-over-with behavior comes off as confrontational, more than constructive feedback, even when what they had to say needed to be said. You’ll often hear others say, “I agree with what he said, but not how he said it.” Some high “D”s may even send a memo or email telling an employee they’re not pulling their weight or even that they’re fired. Positive perfomance evaluations are based on results, not the details. Coaching will be limited to “just go do it and keep me posted.”

“I”s tend to evaluate other by how well they verabilze feeling. They see performance reviews more as a time to look talk about doing better than a time to confront underperformance. High “I”s prefer a face to face meeting, often times in a casual setting. They may even schedule a difficult meeting over lunch. Telling an employee bad news is extremely difficult for the high “I”; they may tend to beat around the bush before telling an employee what needs to be said. High “I”s tend to set optimistic goals, even unrealistic, because it never hurts to dream. While other high “I”s might enjoy their cordial presentation and letting under-performing employees down easy, other behavioral styles will likely be thinking, “why don’t you just say it and stop talking already?” High “I”s are great coaches if you believe inspiration and motivation can change behavior. But most coaching sessions will be more talk than action, with the coach doing most of the talking.

If any style is challenged by performance reviews, it’s the high “S”. Performance reviews are truly times to acknowledge contributions of the employee and identify areas of improvement. High “S”s will likely be the most lenient managers. They prefer stability to change. Discplining or terminating an employee is very stressful and requires change if the employee leaves or needs to be replaced. The high “S” may not sleep well the night before an evaluation and is especially drained after the meeting. They will bend over backwards to accomodate under-performance, and hope the employee will quit before they have to confront them. High “S”s tend to set realistic goals – why set goals you can’t reach, it’s risky, confrontational and demoralizing. High “S”s are the very best listeners and natural coaches of all the styles.

For the high “C”, performance evaluations are rather “matter of fact.” Their reviews are well-documented, detailed, and critical but objective. Results, accuracy, and cognition get high ratings. If the top rating is a 5 for outstanding performance, high “C”s rarely give higher than a “4” – “there is always room for improvement”, they think. Goals are specific and measurable with exact milestones. They will be realistic and at least in the high “C”s mind, attainable. High “C”s set a very high standard and how you reach your goals is just as important as getting the result. Ongoing feedback will be rare but when provided, the high “C” will consider it constructive. Unfortunately the recipients might perceive it as critical

Understanding how your personal style might bias your judgment of employee behavior begins with a DISC self-assessment. For more information about the DISC personality test profile, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

So Much Free Advice Available, Why Are Interviews So Ineffective?

Creating an effective employer interview question guide is a necessity for hiring qualified workers. But a simple search for the phrase “interview question guide” turns up 60,200,200 Google results in only 0.14 seconds.  With such an ample supply of free advice, why are employee interviews so ineffective at employee screening and employee selection?

The problem with most employee interviews is that the wrong questions can elicit persuasive but unpredictive candidate responses that influence managers to hire them.

There are two types of wrong questions.  First, you have the illegal questions – the questions you can’t ask.  Federal and some state law explicitly prohibit asking specific questions about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion and others.  These questions are nixed because they generally have nothing to do with the ability to do the job.  The solution to this problem is simple – avoid these questions.

That leads us to the second type of questions – the questions you can ask.  Unfortunately that approach doesn’t mean you can ask just any question that comes to mind.

For example, an interviewer often asks this popular interview question to a managerial candidate: “describe for me how you have motivated an under-performing employee?”  The candidate describes a scenario that is music to the interviewer’s ears. The interviewer checks off that question and moves on to the next. Unfortunately the candidate could have just recited a scripted response he picked up on the Internet or learned from a friend. Providing the “right” answer doesn’t conclude the candidate actually performed this act or even has the ability to do it. All he or she did was merely show a skill in answering a question.

While the candidate might have indeed accomplished what he says he did, the skilled interviewer should not accept the response at face value.  He should follow up by asking something like “And how did you learn that process?” or “have you been able to repeat that success again?”  Few if any interview questions relating to job fit should ever answered satisfactorily with just one response.  The interviewer should always be prepared with a probing follow up question. My rule of thumb is that for every question asked, the interviewer should be prepared to ask two additional follow up questions.

Interviewers also tend to ask a lot of questions that might be job related, but not job relevant.  Agencies like Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only require that employers ask job related questions.  But while a question like “tell me what you disliked about your last job” might be job related, it might not help you determine if the individual can actually do the job for you.  A job relevant question might be “tell me how you generate and qualify leads” or “describe your role in developing and implementing a plan to reduce employee turnover.”

By asking the right job relevant questions, followed up with additional probing questions to challenge your assumptions, managers will begin to hire successful workers and avoid the problem of selecting candidates who interview well, but perform poorly.


This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

Sales Personality Traits Draw A Fine Line Between Success and Failure

Not all salespeople are successful. Given the same experience and education,Sales Personality Personality Test why do some salespeople succeed where others fail? Is it motivation? Product knowledge? Evidence suggests that key personality traits directly influence a top performers’ selling style and ultimately their success. What follows is a list of my findings after reviewing thousands of sales personality tests and post-hire discussions with clients.

Collaborative – A fine line exists between confidence and bravado, ambition and selfishness. Ego and greed are two sales personality traits that don’t mix well with clients. While there is no question that the salesperson who believes “that second place is the first place for losers” can be successful, that’s a tough blueprint for sustainable relationships. Long-term high value clients don’t develop when every sales transaction has a winner and loser. Top performing salespeople in all but the low-margin, high volume transactional sale requires the ability to collaborate with, not compete against, customers. The focal point of every sales transaction should be team, which includes the customer and other critical players within the company. A dash of modesty and humility wouldn’t hurt either.

Conscientiousness – The stereotypical salesperson is often deemed to be synonymous with over-promising, under-delivering. It’s also a given that most top performers don’t like completing and submitting reports. But not liking details and low compliance doesn’t bode well with clients. One trait that differentiates top performers from average and below-performers is conscientiousness, having a high level of reliability and accountability.

Curiosity – A passion for asking questions (and then listening for the answer) is a trait that over three-quarters of top performers possess. Especially in today’s marketplace, a thirst for knowledge and desire to be a subject matter expert is a must. Unfortunately for many previously successful salespeople, a large part of their past success relied on others spoon feeding them information. But now, the ability to solve problems quickly is a key differentiator. This doesn’t mean that every top performer is a walking/talking encyclopedia. But it does mean that he or she has to know what to ask and where to get the information about a customer’s business, competition, and customers almost on the fly. On the other hand, low performers take too much for granted and accept too much information at face value.

Sociability – One of the most surprising differences between top performing salespeople and those ranking in the bottom half is their level of sociability and outgoingness – and that doesn’t mean hire extroverts, reject introverts. Many “best fit” models place a high value on extroversion as a predictor for sales success. But research has shown time and again that listening skills are just as important to selling as networking and persuasiveness. Managers tend to be impressed with the extrovert who can walk into a room of 100 strangers and within minutes be the life of the party. They are the analog equivalent of the Facebook user who has 5,000 “friends,” a large rolodex. But extroverts have a tendency to do a lot of talking and not enough listening (That’s what makes them extroverts!) But how many salespeople do you know (or maybe even hired) that has thousands of contacts but few sales. While presentation and interpersonal skills are critical, over-reliance on sociability and extroversion as key indicators for hiring salespeople leads to a significant number of failures. In other words, the introvert who is curious, articulate, and personable yet reserved, can be just as successful if not more so than the gregarious extrovert.

Stability – Resilience and coping skills are likely the most overlooked traits when it comes to selecting salesperson. Emotional stability which drives both resilience and stress management is also the most misunderstood trait. In one study after the other, too much stability is as bad as too little when it comes to predicting top performers. In fact, in several studies, 50 percent of low performing salespeople had so much composure that they lacked a sense of urgency, an Achilles Heel in most sales organizations. Likewise, candidates who had an “edge” about them – always restless and anxious, almost ADHD-like – often turn out to be the high-energy, always “on” individuals. Management rewards them for hard work and loyalty, only to discover that they are also high maintenance, demanding, and needy. Over time, the team of “Energizer” bunnies wears everyone down around them, including the manager. Of all the sales personality traits, the right amount of emotional stability is one of the most predictive of top performance.

These five traits can be assessed easily with a number of different employee assessment tools, including a combination sales personality tests and behavioral interviewing. The assessment model I recommend is based on the 5-Factor model, most easily remembered by the acronym OCEAN – openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. We currently offer three different assessments based on this model – Clues, Prevue, and ASSESS.

Learn more about each of these assessments and how they might fit in your business, contact us today for a complimentary, no-obligation, employee selection consultation. We guarantee that you will take away valuable information that you can implement immediately to improve your company’s hiring process – regardless of whether you become a client of ours.

Click HERE to make contact!

 

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.