Monday, September 21, 2009

Reorganize and Recover In a Challenging Economy

In March, Profiles International researchers conducted a comprehensive review of organizational design and talent management practices to identify best practices in organizational restructuring.

It polled companies on how well they believed their organizations followed these practices and how well they would be prepared for a major reorganization and redeployment event. Nearly 800 people from multiple industries participated in the survey. Based on the data, they identified the following strategies for reorganizing and redeploying employees in order to succeed during a recession.

1. Know how each job supports the organization's key objectives. Seventy-six percent of participants expressed some uncertainty about this point. An organization may be behind the curve if job designs have not changed with a revamped plan of action. If employees are performing their jobs the same old way, they are thwarting progress. Top leaders must buy in to the strategy and share it with employees so every worker knows how to put the plan into action.

2. Consider internal and external candidates for open positions. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were certain they looked inside their organization first for the best candidate. Internal hiring demonstrates confidence in a company's training practices of and employees. Such practices encourage top performers to take initiative and exercise creative thinking. Less training is required in crucial aspects of the job, such as the scope and connections to other employees and departments because internal hires already know how the company works.

3. Use objective evaluation criteria based on known outstanding performers. To ensure each worker fits the job, measure how top employees in the same position perform. Then apply the same assessment to candidates for the position and see how well they match the top performers. This approach works because it applies objective standards to the position instead of using subjective standards or "hiring with your gut."

4. Apply a consistent selection process to all candidates. Only 24 percent of respondents were certain their selection processes were objective and fair. This is important, not only because talent managers want to do the right thing, but also because legal challenges to employee selection standards are expensive. The best employee selection process ensures selection standards are job-related, validated and standardized.

5. Include key stakeholders in the employee selection process. Seventy-three percent of business leaders in the survey were not certain the most important members of their organizations were involved in this critical process. Key stakeholders are those affected, for better or worse, by talent operations, those with an interest in what talent leaders do and those who influence talent managers' actions.

6. Train interviewers in selection process. Profiles' research reveals an opportunity improvement. Fewer than 20 percent of participants are certain their interviewers receive adequate training. Once talent managers decide to use structured interviews - those in which questions and tasks are chosen beforehand to ensure consistency - it is imperative to coach interviewers. The process is more likely to go smoothly if interviewers understand it, buy in to the reasoning behind it and know what to do. The unstructured interview will not enable talent managers to identify the best candidates.

7. Conduct comprehensive reference and background checks on job candidates. According to the survey, only 34 percent of respondents utilized such information. Leaders might view reference or background checks as unnecessary when they "know" someone is right for a position. Employment experts estimate nearly one-third of all resumes contain false or exaggerated information.

In today's economy, most organizations face pressure to reduce waste and maximize efficiency. For many, this means making difficult personnel decisions to eliminate positions that do not add sufficient value to the organization and either eliminating or redeploying people to those roles. The stakes are high with little room for error, but with proper assessment and coaching systems in place, companies can position themselves to survive the current conditions and thrive in the future.

[About the Author: Jim Sirbasku is co-founder and CEO of Profiles International Inc., a human resource management solutions and employment assessments provider.]

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