Thursday, December 25, 2008
Employer-employee compatibility must be a two-way street for an appointment to be successful over the long-term. To gauge compatibility, candidates should ask potential employers four critical questions during a selection process.
A significantly shrinking talent pool worldwide means that competition is often stiff for organizations trying to identify and retain peak performers. Organizations often invest in testing and assessment programs to ensure that new hires and internal promotions have the right "fit" with the company culture. However, candidates do not always think about whether a company culture is compatible with their own values and professional needs. Employer-employee compatibility must be a two-way street for an appointment to be successful over the long term.
As such, during the selection process candidates should ask potential employers, managers, and peers the following four critical questions:
1. How does this organization listen to employee feedback?Unfortunately many organizations treat employees as nothing more than numbers -- and subservient numbers at that. Consequently, the answer to this question will reveal whether the organization values the wisdom and contributions of its talent pool, engages the employees, and/or instills a sense of company ownership.
2. How does your employee performance evaluation process work?It may surprise you to learn that many companies do not have a `systematic employee appraisal process in place. Therefore, the answer to this question will reveal whether the organization is structured and consistent in its performance expectations. By understanding how your work will be appraised helps to identify clear expectations, which directly feeds the notion of job security, which is a crucial factor to all employees.
3. What opportunities are there for development?Human resource is a concept that does not always have a succinct definition of renewable. By asking this question you are delving into the culture to understand if employees are viewed as investments or merely as replaceable resources. The answer to this question will help you determine if this company will provide you with the necessary tools to progress along your desired career path.
4. How does this organization reward talent?Believe it or not, some companies reward employees who simply maintain the status quo and penalize employees who show initiative and talent. For example, we know of an episode whereby an employee took much time to provide unsolicited but constructive feedback on a piece of marketing material that was full of factual and grammatical errors. Instead of appreciating the employee's efforts in trying to spare the company considerable embarrassment and potential business, the organization largely reacted defensively and stopped including this employee in key interactions. Therefore, this is a potentially challenging question to an interviewer who is also a manager at the hiring company. You will also be able to ascertain how prevalent recognition is within the organization's culture, for example does recognition occur on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. The answer will reveal whether the organization is organized and committed about employee retention and professional development, as well as how it goes about it.
It is also important to note a fifth question for possible consideration: Can employees be themselves at this organization? Sometimes organizations demand that employees conform to management's skewed - or even downright counterproductive - definition of an "ideal employee." With this in mind, the answer to this pointed question will help to reveal management's expectations for employee behavior - that is, whether employees are encouraged to act as company "drones" versus act as individuals with unique personalities and perspectives to be shared and strategically leveraged.
Again, issues with skill set and lack of fit with the company culture are among the top reasons organizations disqualify candidates. Likewise, lack of recognition, advancement and fit with a candidate's value system are among the top reasons why candidates disqualify employers. For this reason, we encourage candidates to conduct due diligence on companies just like employers do with applicants during the recruitment phase.Come to think of it, all organizations should contemplate the four questions above if increasing morale, productivity and profitability are top priorities. A shrinking talent pool means that the onus is now often on companies to convince talented individuals why their time, devotion and energies should be invested in their organization versus their competitors.
Ref: Jim Houran and Whitney Harper