Friday, March 27, 2009

Performance Appraisal Blues

A performance appraisal can be good or bad, depending on the employee. The appraisal, in theory, is designed to provide an orderly way for an employee’s superior to interact with him, usually on an annual basis, to tell him what the company thinks about his job performance and how to improve it by pointing out key positives and negatives about his on-the-job performance over the past year.

Its primary mission is to give feedback to help employees strengthen their capabilities so that they can be more productive members of the organisation, and in the process receive additional compensation or responsibility.

The review is used to convey both satisfaction with an employee’s job performance (leading, hopefully, to a raise) and dissatisfaction (which could be the precursor to a demotion or even a termination).

To grow with an organisation when an employee has received a less-than-sterling review, he has to learn to separate the "learning" areas from the "hurting" parts of the message (i.e. the personal or work related negatives). For the employee, the bottom line of a performance appraisal is often of a fairly short range.

Most employees come out of an appraisal that is critical of their performance understandably upset or angry. One important thing to remember is that the employee is still at the company (not applying for a job) so there's a lot they can do before resigning themselves to being terminated or being forced to leave.

Five keys to help employees to cope with and overcome a bad appraisal
  1. Employees should go in with a list of accomplishments that they have accumulated over the past year. They will be surprised at how much they have accomplished.
  2. They should go into the review assuming there will be some negatives, and think of the meeting as a way to learn what specific issues they have to work on to get to that next step. It's the boss' job to let the employees know about areas where they can improve, so the employee should try not to be offended. The employees’ goal is to convince the supervisor, in a positive manner, that they are willing to make that commitment.
  3. Before going into a review, employees should separate a page into two columns. The first should be headed "Specific Areas of Strength"; the second, "Specific Areas of Improvement." It's very important that they hear both the good and the bad comments, because they will never improve, to their boss' satisfaction, if they deny, in their anger, that there are any areas needing improvement.
  4. Employees should ask for clarification and specific examples if they hear generalisations or don't understand what the problem is. But they should try hard not to be too argumentative.
  5. Employees should find out how their boss might solve these issues, and ask for another review in 30 days to address these specific issues, to see if headway is being made.

Employees should remember that if they spend their time being hurt by or defensive about what is said, and not learning about what they can do to change their boss' perception, they are doing themselves a disservice.

What they should try to accomplish is to leave the meeting with a good idea of what they can do to improve their boss' perception of them, before the next appraisal. The employees should also create an image of a thoughtful employee who is willing to change and able to modify behaviour.

Good jobs are hard to come by, and if employees like their job, this approach will help to give them a fighting chance to assess and correct areas that their supervisor feels may have been overlooked, without allowing personal feelings to dominate.

Reference: TheManageMentor

Performance Appraisal - Management by Objectives

Once an employee has been selected, trained and embarked on his duties, it is time for performance appraisal. What is performance appraisal? Why do companies need to take up this task?

According to Heyel, “it is the process of evaluating the performance and qualifications of the employees in terms of job requirements, for administrative purposes such as placement, selection and promotions, to provide financial rewards and other actions which require differential treatment among the members of a group as distinguished from actions affecting all members equally”.

This concept dates back to the First World War and was then called “Merit rating programme”. Over a period of time, this concept has been through an ocean of change. The areas of evaluation have also changed.

Importance and objectives: Performance appraisals have been considered to be the most significant and indispensable tool for the management as it,
  1. Provides useful information for decision making in areas of promotion and merit rating and compensation reviews.
  2. Links information gathering and decision making process, which are the basis for judging the effectiveness of personnel subfunctions such as recruiting, selecting and compensation.
  3. Helps pinpoint areas of concerns in the primary systems like marketing, finance and production.
  4. Enhances understanding for training and counselling needs.

Methods of performance appraisal

There are several methods for evaluating performance. Management by objectives is the most popular one.

Management by objectives is primarily to change the behaviour and attitude towards getting an activity or assignment completed in a manner that it is beneficial for the organisation. Management by objectives is a result-oriented process. In this system, emphasis is on results and goals rather than a prescribed method.

For instance, the number of quality articles to be churned out in a week, at a publishing house is, let’s say, five. This is the goal of the organisation. This goal has to be set in coordination with the writers. The emphasis here again would be on accomplishing this task flawlessly over the week rather than the setting of a method to accomplish the same. You are giving them a free hand to decide as to how they want to work in order to accomplish target. This gives the employee both responsibility as well as authority to do a job. The employees are now responsible for its success and failure and it is their baby. It is a VERY SMART MANAGEMENT TOOL where the employee is involved in the decision making process.

The fives magic sutras

The mystery of management of objectives has the following basic steps.

Set organisational goals. This envisages that organisational goals and business strategies are expressed clearly, concisely and accurately. They are periodically reviewed. They should be challenging enough to motivate the employee. Clear and attainable goals help channel energies towards desired behaviour and let the employee know the basis on which he will be rewarded.

Joint goal setting. This step establishes short-term goals, which are performance oriented, between the management and the employee. The responsibilities are clarified to the employees through organisational charts and job description. The goals decided by the employee need to complement the goals of the management. They also need to be flexible to accommodate new ideas without losing individual responsibilities. Moreover they should be easily quantifiable. For example,

To prepare, process and transfer to the office superintended, all account payable vouchers within three working days from the receipt of the voucher.

To hold weekly meetings with all employee.To use program evaluation and review technique (pert) for all new plant layouts.

Performance reviews. This step suggests frequent performance review between the manager and the employees. During the initial stages the meetings be held once a month and later could be quarterly. For maximum benefit these meetings should be scheduled for more than once a year.

Set check posts: Establishment of major check posts to measure progress. This is merely to check that the employee surges towards his premeditated goal without any disruptions. These check levels should be higher in the initial stages and then gradually reduce. This demands that the manager should be on constant alert and exercise sound judgment.

Feedback: The employees who receive frequent feedback about their performance are highly motivated than those who do not. However, one has to ensure that the feedback is relevant and specific. This helps the employee and the manager understand where they stand.

The five-sutra process of management by objectives ensures that the manager and the employee define and establish goals and objectives for an employee to be achieved within a prescribed period of time. The employee is to be supervised and evaluated, periodically. To this extent, a frequent feedback and superior-employee interaction model must be evolved.

Reference: TheManageMentor

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recruitment & Retention: Assessing jobs, not persons

Job Analysis (JA) is a process to identify and determine in detail not only the particular responsibilities and requirements but also the relative importance of these responsibilities for a given job. It is a process where judgements are made about data collected on a job.

The purpose of JA is to establish and document the 'job relatedness' of employment procedures such as training, selection, compensation, and performance appraisal.

An important concept about this tool is that it analyses the job, not the person. The data required may be collected from incumbents through interviews or questionnaires.

Job Analysis can be used in:

  • assessment tests to measure effectiveness of training and
  • Identifying methods of training (i.e., small group, computer-based, video, classroom...)

It can also be used to structure compensation based on:

  • skill levels of an employee
  • hazards at the work place
  • responsibilities of supervisors at the work place
  • required level of training needed to perform the job

Selection Procedures

This technique can be used in selection procedures to identify or develop:

  • job duties that should be included in advertisements of vacant positions
    appropriate salary for the position
  • interview questions
  • selection tools
  • performance appraisal/evaluation forms
  • orientation material for new employees

Job Analysis can be used in performance reviews to identify or develop:

  • goals and objectives
  • performance standards
  • evaluation criteria
  • length of probationary periods

Methods of Job Analysis

Several methods exist that may be used individually or in combination. These include:
review of job classification systems

  • incumbent interviews
  • supervisor interviews
  • expert panels
  • structured questionnaires
  • task inventories
  • check lists
  • open-ended questionnaires

A common method of analysing a job would be, to give the incumbent a simple questionnaire to identify job duties, responsibilities, equipment used, work relationships and work environment. The completed questionnaire would then be assisting the Analyst to conduct an interview of the incumbent. A draft of identified job duties; responsibilities, equipment, relationships and work environment would be reviewed with the supervisor for accuracy. The analyst would then prepare a job description and/or job specifications.

Job Analysis: Right Person Right Job

Writing job descriptions is an art. A correct job description brings in the right employee. As today the focus is on multi-tasking or multiple skills, companies with good job descriptions have a shortened recruitment cycle. A good job description is well thought out but not written from boilerplates.

What is job description?

Job description specifies job requirements and acts as a screening tool. Therefore, manpower requirement and planning is dependent on job descriptions. Information about duties, responsibilities, Key Result Areas (KRA’s), qualifications and compensation information are detailed as part of job description.

Duties: Clearly outlining the duties is crucial for a good job description. Duties need to be specific to both short-term issues and long-term challenges of the position. Short-term priority issues need to be addressed during the first few days. Long-term challenges relate to where the hiring manager wants to be in months down the road.
Qualifications: Qualifications are the principal screening elements. These fall into two areas – must haves and nice to haves. Must haves are absolute requirements and without them the person is screened out. Nice to haves are like the icing on the cake.
Compensation information: Generally,this area is skipped in job descriptions. When stated, however, will attract a wider range of qualified individuals. The most important thing is, for the right person, compensation can always be adjusted, titles changed and duties expanded.

The why's of job description

It is essential to provide guidance to people as to what to do and how to do it. Job description enables people in organisations to know who does what and who knows what. Above all, it provides information about the technical skill requirements and “nature” of the person best suited for the job.

How to write a good job description?

Be crystal clear: The crucial question is, "What is the purpose of the job?" It highlights:

  • Management’s expectations from the employee.
  • Role of the job-holder.
  • Employee's contribution towards the achievement of company goals.
  • Relationships between different jobs and activities of the organisation.

Source of information: Best-written job descriptions are those written by or with the person in the job. He is the best person to know about the job and thus will be able to complete his own work profile. In case the employees are not articulate enough to write the details, help them with formal and informal interviews and questionnaires. Encourage them to choose the titles.

Assess the skills and abilities: It requires complete analysis of the work structure on the following lines:

Technical/professional aspects.

  • Administration.
  • Man management.
  • Commercial activities.
  • Written or spoken communication skills.
  • Analytical skills.

List the tasks: They should be arranged in an order based on the importance, frequency and processes.

Analyse the job: Should be analysed on the following accounts:

  • Decision-making authority.
  • Time frame to make decisions.
  • Number of units under control.
  • Definition and distinction between the staff and line functions.
  • Levels of authority.
  • Whom to report to.

Write the job description: It should contain the title and department, location, responsibility and major functional relationships.

Current trends
E-recruitment is the in thing now. The workforce, too are looking for opportunities on the Net. Writing job descriptions for the Net is radically different from writing for the regular media. Here are few tips that will help you attract the best talent to your company. An effective job description format online includes:

Position heading: It is the text that catches the job-seeker’s attention. The text must goad them into going further and hence needs to have a punch in it.

Company statement: It is essential to create excitement and interest about your company.

Position summary: It enhances the interest level about the position along with providing additional information.

Salary and benefits summary: It provides the salary range associated with the position as well as a profile of company benefits.

Qualifications: Need to be stated clearly. If unclear, the job-seeker may think the position is below his expertise and may not apply.

Reference: TheManageMentor

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Restructuring recruitment

Cost cutting measures, massive layoffs, and reduction in jobs have left organisations with fewer talented employees. Organisations are being compelled to recruit from the best available rather than those best suited for the job. This is resulting in bad hires. Ultimately it is the organisation's performance that is affected.

Though organisations are implementing innovative strategies to attract the right talent, they are finding it difficult to retain them for long. This demands a restructuring of the recruiting process.
Structuring the recruitment process by automating it has helped organisations. They can invest in systems, which give recruiters sufficient time to assess soft skills. Recruiters will also have the opportunity to evaluate people for factors such as motivation, aspiration and potential, and not just the skills for the job.

How does it help?

Automating recruitment process can help HR:

  • Bring in objectivity and rule out bias in assessing potential employees
  • Track an individual's data
  • Provide information to set standards for performance
  • Understand personal interests
  • Match future organisational needs with individual development plans
  • Use resources effectively

While online recruiting saves the organisation both time and resources, it should be ensured that the time saved is spent on the key issues of the recruitment process. The recruitment stage should thus include:

  • Identifying the motivating factors of the employees to help them perform better
  • Understanding their long-term goals and aspirations to draw their career plans with the organisation
  • Tracing their lifestyle and family needs to make them feel cared for, to help retain employees for a longer time.

Reference: TheManageMentor

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to Appraise Performance?

Speedy HR Solutions

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Human Resources Solutions practice repositioned its business strategy. The company combined its consulting services with a delivery model that moves at Internet speed to meet the needs of HR professionals in the new economy.

HR services provided by PWC are being named as UNIFI network. UNIFI will address issues like developing HR programmes, consulting for HR solutions worldwide, outsourcing of HR services and online HR services. This will bring about a dramatic change in the world of hr professionals.

The company would also launch a portal to address concerns of "worklife" needs of today's Web generation. The UNIFI network reinvents the way companies think about HR in today’s web enabled world.

The main aim of this project is to leverage the power of the Internet community. The objective of this project is also to make work places more interactive and personalised and a place where people can share knowledge.

UNIFI Network has tied up with PeopleSoft to render strategic business solutions to HR professionals. By teaming with such end-to-end application service providers, administrative tasks can be reduced drastically. The company has also tied up with Ask Jeeves to provide online customer care services.

UNIFI and other such packages can help solve complex HR problems to a large extent. Business units, which plan to restructure themselves and also cut operating costs, should necessarily invest in such ready-made business solutions.

Counselling at work place- The Resonance Way

The Resonance Way
“I no longer have the enthusiasm, energy or creativity I once had towards my work", says Indu Jain, Fashion Designer at L'haut, a garment manufacturer.

Like Indu, employees who once derived pleasure from their work, have begun to lose interest, energy and talent. Though such employees turn in mediocre performance, increased competition and globalisation demand excellence and continuous improvement.

“We direct our efforts to help employees renew and revive the way they once felt about their jobs ", says Ravi Menon, HR Manager, La Femme. This helps the company retain some of their best talent for competitive advantage. These efforts make an employee feel that the company values his past contributions, and wants him to have a fulfilling and positive attitude towards work.

Talk ' Resonance'.

'Resonance' or 'flow' refers to the state of mind where an individual employee is deeply involved with a task, overcomes obstacles effortlessly and finds the experience more satisfying than the result. For example, in a game of tennis, the player is more satisfied with the techniques he used to overcome his opponent's moves rather than actually winning.

Identify and Rediscover.

HR needs to identify if employees ever experienced ' resonance' during their careers. Ask employees about their experiences at work or with any other activity. Ask open-ended questions like how an employee felt when he received the award for the ' best performer of the year.'

Identify and Recreate.

To prevent boredom and monotony at work, employees are eager to pursue hobbies and interests. At times, this can be given more priority and thus effect an individual's concentration at work.

Revisit a dream.

Dreams and personal aspirations play significantly influence an individual's performance at work. People tend to work better to fulfil personal aspirations rather than duty or obligation. However, obstacles like ill health or circumstances often prevent the realisation of a dream.

People who were successful and were excellent performers may never have had a dream to work towards. Despite success and fame, such employees never have anything more to look forward to. They do not put in the time, energy and talent that they once used to. Resonance makes them reflect on work and how they can make it more meaningful.

Reference: TheManageMentor

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Integration Key to Effective Succession Planning

Whether attempting to crown the next CEO or determine which workers to tap for promotion to the company's managerial ranks, an organization needs a comprehensive view into the workforce's skills and talent in order to make the best talent and business decisions. Integrating learning, performance management, compensation management and career planning can facilitate effective succession planning.

A successful succession plan should answer the following questions for each candidate:

a) Learning: What does the candidate know (knowledge)? What is he or she qualified to do (skills)? What training has the candidate completed?

b) Performance and competency management: How well has the candidate performed in the past? What does past performance indicate about areas of strength and/or weakness? Which competencies have the candidate attained or still need to ascend to the next level? Which positions in the organization map to the competencies demonstrated by this candidate?

c) Compensation management: What is the candidate's compensation history? How does the candidate's compensation map to his or her performance and achievement of corporate goals?

d) Career planning and development: What are the candidate's future career goals? Where does the person see him or herself professionally, one, three, even 10 years down the road? Is the candidate willing to relocate in order to accept a new or existing position? How much is he or she willing to travel?

To answer these questions, organizations must have insight and visibility into organizational talent. By integrating and aggregating information about an employee's learning, performance management, compensation, career-planning activities and history, organizations can generate a comprehensive snapshot of each employee or of an organization's entire workforce.

Further, this integrated approach serves to match employee career goals with organizational staffing needs, allowing companies to more effectively leverage existing talent.

Historically, the enterprise-technology platforms available to manage this employee data have been largely cut off from one another, each confined to its own silo of functionality. Traditional learning management systems (LMS), for example, automate the delivery and management of training and, in some instances, competencies. Traditional employee performance management systems (EPM) automate performance management administration and, in some instances, career planning.

This siloed approach has made it nearly impossible to integrate the information necessary for effective succession planning. But talent managers now are driving the evolution of a new class of enterprise software.

According to a June 2007 research report titled "Learning Management Systems 2008: Facts, Practical Analysis, Trends and Vendor Profiles" from research firm Bersin & Associates, the integration revolution already has begun.

The report said the "convergence of learning and performance management systems is still in its early stages," but LMS features are evolving and "continue to snowball at an incredible rate." Further, in response to customer demand, nearly every major LMS vendor "has developed a new set of capabilities for performance management, succession planning, and competency management."

According to Gartner Inc. the same phenomenon is occurring in the EPM market. When Gartner Research Vice President James Holincheck wrote the update to the research firm's "MarketScope for Employee Performance Management Software" in late 2007, he said EPM systems are no longer being evaluated on their own, and customers are increasingly selecting EPM solutions that are "more integrated with compensation and succession management."

In response, Gartner not only broadened the scope of its research to include all three areas, it expanded the very definition of EPM, from focusing only on performance management to include succession management and compensation management.

With succession planning moving to the forefront of the corporate agenda, the time has come for stakeholders to evaluate their succession planning strategies and solutions in the context of broader talent management capabilities and goals.

References: Shelly Heiden[About the Author: Shelly Heiden is executive vice president for Global Field Operations at Plateau Systems.]

Profit from Change - Organizational Behaviour.

Troughs and crests are a part of the economic cycle, however sitting pretty on them is not easy...

Key learnings:

  • Change is inevitable. The process begins with denial and hence when one indulges in denial , it is a hint of the impending change
  • A successful change process is one that culminates in commitment from those subjected to change

The economic gloom has blanketed the global corporate landscape in totality. Pessimism and dejection dominate the corporate sentiment. The worker population is feeling more insecure than ever and is unwilling to see the positive side of the slump. Despite all the doom and gloom, corporate psychologists believe that there is a reason to cheer. While the sudden slump has caught people off guard, it has also ushered a new and fresher economic inning. The change, as is being said has arrived. And therefore the reaction of people is justified as change in any form first meets resistance.

The resistance one is witnessing is justified as things that people took for granted till very recently have become luxuries. Ever -increasing share prices, steady economy, better pay, and better benefits were the most obvious incentives for the worker population. However, benefits have been slashed suddenly, pay hikes have become a distant dream and job security has taken a beating. With the scenario not looking too promising, the worker population is becoming increasingly jittery and desperate. However, on the flipside is a reassurance that the scenario is better than what one has seen in the past . Jobs are intact. Careers may not flourish but survival is not an issue and things may not be down for long.

Despite the reassurance, there is no running away from the fact that change is extremely draining , especially emotionally. People feel threatened when they are forced to move out of comfort zones. Unwanted or forced change therefore results in certain definite behavioural patterns. People begin to behave in a certain given manner that reflects unwillingness to change. According to social psychologists change, especially forced change goes through four stages before it sets in the new system Each of these stages reflects a certain behavioural pattern that is found in people subjected to the change.

Process of change

Stage1-Refutation The first stage in the change process is that of refutation or denial. People subjected to change do not oppose the change but merely deny the need for it. For instance, when recession arrived leaders across the globe lived in the denial mode for some time. They refrained from declaring its arrival. They termed the slump as "just another phase" in the economic cycle and waited for the crisis to pass. However, the realisation dawned when the consequences began to have a snowball effect. It was declared that recession had in fact arrived.Thus, in case of an impending change, one must:

  • Research data and information available and see for themselves if the change is real
  • Break out of the comfort zone and seek solutions. Sitting and hoping for things to fall in place would not help much

Stage2-Resistance After overcoming denial, people find themselves resisting change. The resistance is not directed at the new ways of doing things.It however emerges from the fear of moving out of the established zone of comfort. Thus , to overcome resistance people should:

  • Fragment change.
  • Takinging small steps towards accepting change works well for people who fear venturing into uncharted territories
  • Work with a positive frame of mind. Understand that if the change is coming from the leadership then it is well-thought of and sure to enhance performance in the long-term

Stage3-Self-experimentation The third stage of the change process underscores the act of exploration and self-experimentation by individuals subjected to change. This is a stage when people begin to choose parts of change that they believe could give them instant results. When people indulge in self-exploration , it is a sign of partial acceptance of change. They are perceived to be giving change "a chance" to prove itself, but on their terms. Thus, experimentation with components of change is a good sign for change leaders. To encourage exploration of new change , leaders should:

  • Reward people who experiment with the components of change
  • Encourage people to offer constructive criticism in the context of change

Stage 4-Commitment to change This stage spells success for the new change. At this stage change becomes an integral part of everyday life. People begin to see the new way as the only way of doing things. The old way is dumped and forgotten. However, at this stage leaders must guard against employees getting too complacent with change. They should push them continuously to experiment with newer and better ways of doing things.Brooding over change only lands one in a lose-lose scenario. The better way therefore, is to take change in the right spirit and profit from it!

Reference: TheManageMentor

13 things to never share or discuss with your co-workers.

"It's a social environment as well as a work environment. However, you must remember while you can be friendly and develop a good rapport, business is business and friendship is friendship."

Most workers don't realize that what they say has as much impact on their professional imges as what they wear. People who say too much, about themselves or others, can be seen as incompetent, unproductive and unworthy of professional development.

To avoid your next case of verbal diarrhea, here are 13 things to never share or discuss with your co-workers.
1. Salary information What you earn is between you and Human Resources, Solovic says. Disclosure indicates you aren't capable of keeping a confidence.
2. Medical history Nobody really cares about your aches and pains, your latest operation, your infertility woes or the contents of your medicine cabinet. To your employer, your constant medical issues make you seem like an expensive, high-risk employee.
3. Gossip Whomever you're gossiping with will undoubtedly tell others what you said, Plus, if a co-worker is gossiping with you, most likely he or she will gossip about you.
4. Work complaints Constant complaints about your workload, stress levels or the company will quickly make you the kind of person who never gets invited to lunch. If you don't agree with company policies and procedures, address it through official channels or move on.
5. Cost of purchases The spirit of keeping up with the Joneses is alive and well in the workplace, but you don't want others speculating on the lifestyle you're living –or if you're living beyond your salary bracket.
6. Intimate details Don't share intimate details about your personal life. Co-workers can and will use the information against you.
7. Politics or religion People have strong, passionate views on both topics. You may alienate a co-worker or be viewed negatively in a way that could impact your career.
8. Lifestyle changes Breakups, divorces and baby-making plans should be shared only if there is a need to know. Otherwise, others will speak for your capabilities, desires and limitations on availability, whether there is any truth to their assumptions or not.
9. Blogs or social networking profile What you say in a social networking community or in your personal blog may be even more damaging than what you say in person. Comments online can be seen by multiple eyes. An outburst of anger when you are having a bad day … can blow up in your face.
10. Negative views of colleagues If you don't agree with a co-worker's lifestyle, wardrobe or professional abilities, confront that person privately or keep it to yourself. The workplace is not the venue for controversy.

11. Hangovers and wild weekends It's perfectly fine to have fun during the weekend, but don't talk about your wild adventures on Monday. That information can make you look unprofessional and unreliable.
12. Personal problems and relationships – in and out of the office Failed marriages and volatile romances spell instability to an employer. Office romances lead to gossip and broken hearts, so it's best to steer clear. The safest way to play is to follow the rule, 'Never get your honey where you get your money.
13. Off-color or racially charged comments You can assume your co-worker wouldn't be offended or would think something is funny, but you might be wrong. Never take that risk. Furthermore, even if you know for certain your colleague wouldn't mind your comment, don't talk about it at work. Others can easily overhear.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Talent Acquisition: Quality of Hire and Passive Candidates Reign Supreme

The growing shortage of desired skills is compounded by an increasingly competitive global marketplace and an uncertain economy - all of which combine to force organizations to get more from the same, or less. It's critical that organizations find and lure best-fit talent and increase workforce productivity and retention. While each of these has pre- and post-hire implications, they also can be impacted by an organization's talent acquisition strategy. However, according to recent data from Aberdeen Group, the ability to identify and attract top talent continues to challenge most organizations.

The Shortage and Misalignment of Skills

Aberdeen Group's July benchmark report, "Talent Acquisition Strategies: Employer Branding and Quality of Hire Take Center Stage," revealed the two predominant factors driving talent acquisition at more than 80 percent of organizations surveyed revolves around the competition for skills, the limited supply of skills or both.

In addition to these external pressures, organizations face internal struggles when it comes to effective talent acquisition. Some 46 percent of all organizations - including 56 percent of those that achieved Aberdeen's best-in-class designation (top 20 percent) - cited workforce planning as their top challenge.

The second-highest ranked internal talent acquisition challenge facing best-in-class organizations focuses on the organization's ability to identify, recruit and validate better hires. In fact, 41 percent of best-in-class organizations cite quality of hire as an internal talent acquisition challenge, compared to only 23 percent that rank ability to reach ideal job candidates and time to fill job vacancies as key internal challenges. Laggard organizations (bottom 30 percent) place relatively equal weight on quality of hire, reaching ideal candidates and filling vacancies in a timely fashion.

Best-in-Class Talent Acquisition Strategies

To overcome the aforementioned macro pressures and internal organizational challenges, best-in-class organizations look longer term and focus on enhancing their employer brands, engaging and attracting passive candidates and targeting those who are best fit for their organizations and available job roles.

Best-in-class organizations distinguish themselves in talent acquisition through a mix of processes and technologies that force organizational collaboration, engage existing workers and target their collective efforts on what matters most to the organization. These work collectively to enable best-in-class organizations to achieve extraordinarily average year-over-year performance gains against the key performance indicators.

Key Differentiator: Recruiting Passive Candidates

Aberdeen's research shows talent acquisition in 2009 will be as much internal as it is external to the organization. But both must focus on heightening the organization's employer brand.

Internal strategies will focus on identifying and developing high-potential workers to fill anticipated higher-level vacancies. Best-in-class organizations place greater emphasis on career development, leadership training and flexible work environments to be more attractive to potential hires and more caring of existing staff. Some 68 percent of best-in-class organizations cite promoting career development and professional growth opportunities in recruiting campaigns as a top priority.

Progress against development plans for individuals designated high potential will be measured against the organization's needs to determine if, or when, the position must be filled externally.

External strategies will focus on finding and engaging talented professionals who are not actively seeking new employment. Passive job seekers are not easy to locate, but they represent an important part of a successful talent acquisition strategy. Aberdeen's research found 62 percent of best-in-class organizations are focused on creating or improving a data repository of desirable active and passive job candidates - versus only 46 percent and 35 percent of industry average (middle 50 percent) and laggard companies, respectively.

Whether internally or externally focused, an organization's talent acquisition strategy must create or validate candidates' and employees' perceptions of the organization as a great place to work. Fifty-three percent of best-in-class organizations focus on having corporate marketing and recruiting work together to improve employment branding. An additional 30 percent of best-in-class plan to have this collaboration in place during the next year. The importance of an internal talent acquisition strategy focused on making existing employees feel positive about the organization is highlighted by the following statistics:

a) Employee referrals are cited by all organizations - and 82 percent of best in class - as the top source to find desirable talent.

b) Some 74 percent of best-in-class organizations rank employee contacts and networks in their top three ways to recruit passive candidates, followed by attending conferences, industry events or tradeshows (60 percent) and visiting social networking sites (30 percent).

Best-in-class organizations are more aggressive at communicating job openings and job-role needs to current staff, and 79 percent are more likely to use the corporate Web to showcase the company's culture and opportunities.

Key Differentiator: Collaboration Between Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers is critical to ensure they get the right candidates within an agreed-to time frame. This collaboration is in place at 89 percent of best-in-class organizations, resulting in a mutual understanding of expectations around the process, skills, attributes and attitudes in a desired candidate.

Aberdeen's research revealed a significant disconnect between human resources professionals and the hiring managers they serve. Non-HR managers are more likely than their HR counterparts to rank quality of hire as a critical success metric for talent acquisition. The same data also shows HR professionals are more likely than non-HR managers to rank time to hire as a critical success metric.

While HR and non-HR managers place relatively equal weight on the importance of overall hiring manager satisfaction, the difference in priority they place on quality of hire, quality of candidate and time to fill suggests a lack of understanding on what it takes to satisfy a hiring manager.

The importance of this collaboration is more pronounced when considering that organizations plan to increase hiring managers' involvement in the recruitment process. For example, 48 percent of best-in-class organizations get line managers involved in candidate follow-up calls, but some 75 percent plan to do so within the next year. Only 32 percent of best-in-class organizations train hiring managers on passive recruiting, but an additional 41 percent plan to do so during the next 12 months.

Key Differentiator: Measuring and Validating Quality of Hire

Seventy-four percent of best-in-class organizations said they have an "understanding of which applicant sources provide the best quality job candidates," compared to only 52 percent of lagged organizations.

When asked for the top four indicators their organizations uses to determine quality of hire, best-in-class organizations' responses focused on two areas: how quickly new employees got up to a desired level of competence and how long they lasted in their role during the first 12 months of employment.

To measure the quality of recent hires, organizations need to have processes in place to determine what level of performance the new employee should be at in three-month, six-month and nine-month time frames; to measure the candidate against those milestones; and to evaluate any performance gaps that need to be addressed. How well an organization can measure new hires job performance and use that information to improve the recruiting process plays a major role in a successful talent acquisition program.

Yet, according to Aberdeen's research, organizations ability to clearly articulate what quality of hire actually is still has a long way to go. Research revealed that quality of hire at most organizations is based largely on loose definitions. In fact, establishing "clearly defined metrics pertaining to quality of hire" is the most common plan related to talent acquisition that organizations will put in place in the next 12 months.


1. Gain clarity on skills gaps. Clearly define the common behaviors and skills of the organization's top performers or key contributors. Use this or the organization's core values as a general competency framework to identify skills gaps. This enables an organization to ascertain where gaps can be filled internally and which require more targeted recruiting efforts.

2. Seek feedback. New hires should be interviewed after the job offer to obtain feedback on the recruiting and hiring process. Make improvements as needed.

3. Define success metrics. Clearly defined metrics should be in place to measure the success of talent acquisition efforts. These metrics should be agreed on by HR and hiring managers and should address the organization's specific business issues.

4. Involve hiring managers. Hiring managers and recruiters need to be trained to use new technologies to find passive job candidates. Such workers can be a vital source of talent and expertise but have traditionally been invisible in recruiting efforts.

5. Focus on internal and external employer brand. The entire organization should work together to collectively brand the company a best place to work. Recruiting should be seen as an enterprise-wide function, not the role of human resources.

Ref: Kevin Martin
[About the Author: Kevin Martin is vice president and principal analyst of human capital management for Aberdeen Group.]

Friday, March 6, 2009

Recruitment & Retention- Objective Hiring

While hiring, employers focus on objective factors like hard and soft skills and when firing, they often focus on subjective failure. When rehiring again employers return to objective qualifications.

Objective qualifications are necessary but prove to be insufficient at times. If employers look for all the qualities in one person, then that would be the biggest hiring mistake. This also limits their business potential.

If employers take a closer look at the hires in the past, which did not work out, it would be clear that the hirer must have taken only the objective factors into account. Individuals are more than a collection of technical skills and degrees. To avoid repeating hiring mistakes subjective factors that proved to be a success in the past, should be included. When we hire a new employee, we introduce into our work environment a whole person-with varying communication styles and unique personal strengths and weaknesses.

Most job descriptions talk about objective requirements but do not focus on interpersonal requirements. Interpersonal requirement is a subjective factor.

It is important for companies to mention at the time of hiring, that strong interpersonal skills are required. This is a precautionary step taken to ensure that the right candidates get into the company, so that the company does not have to rehire the same profile again. This should also be mentioned in the job description of the candidate.

Employers don't begin to judge a candidate’s interpersonal skills until the interview takes place. However, applicants do reveal their personality traits long before the actual interview.

The best way to gauge an applicant's interpersonal strengths is through the interview process itself. Interviews tend to focus on the applicant’s past work experience and existing technical skills. This is again an objective way of looking at the candidate.

By asking situational questions, the candidates’ subjective interpersonal style can be measured. Situational questions are not philosophical or abstract but require people to talk about how they would handle a particular situation at work place. By probing deeper into the candidate’s background, hiring mistakes can be avoided to a large extent.

Ref: TheManageMentor

Recruitment & Retention- Behavioural Interviews

Recruiting is a crucial task for any Human Resource department. Especially for the senior management positions, unless an appropriate succession planning is implemented, HR will need to screen a number of prospective candidates before short-listing the appropriate ones. Understanding a candidate's attitude and behaviour is very important, as it determines his approach to the organisation.

An interview is the only means of investigating and finding valuable information about a candidate. No other process of assessment can give a better insight than the interview process. An effective interview is a process of understanding the unspoken and requires the skill of deciphering verbal signs of deception to gain vital information. The best method of gaining information is when the prospect is unaware of the process, since the scope of tampering is minimal here.

A structured and methodical interview helps uncover the known and - obvious aspects of a prospect's personality. To gain deeper insight into the unknown and understand the candidate completely, HR relies on behavioural interviews.

Behavioural interviewing is a technique that uses a structured set of questions aimed and designed to determine a candidate's attitude. This interview technique is based on the paradigm that, when a person makes a conscious effort to act against his natural instinct to respond to the situation, an increased tension and anxiety is displayed. As connecting situations are posed, he loses control due to increased anxiety and fails to keep track of his answers, thus bringing out his true behaviour. More importantly the interviewer understands the body language of the candidate. Such a technique is particularly useful to determine if a candidate is editing information or fabricating responses. This technique of interviewing is generally applied while selecting candidates for crucial management positions in the organisation.

Ref: TheManageMentor

Recruitment & Retention- Get the Right guy on board

The tight labour market prevailing in the economy today compels companies to optimise attempts to retain their best employees. Efficient and structured interviewing is essential to keep turnover rates low. Unstructured interview techniques result in high attrition.

Take a closer look at any interview process. Sometimes, time constraints prompt the interviewer to cut short the interview process. It pays to know a few techniques that would maximise the effectiveness of interviews.

At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer needs to be relaxed. Prior to a face-to-face interview, e-mails and telephone interviews helps the employer find a good cultural fit.

A detailed report should be made based on the telephone interview and the face- to- face interview that follows. At this stage, the interviewer cracks down on skills and potential weaknesses of the candidate.

The next step is to conduct an on the spot skill test. Besides checking for basic skills and performance under pressure, the tests measure the ability to respond quickly to new instructions.

It is also very important to base your decision on the candidate’s past records. An interesting technique to pick the right candidate is to analyse the candidate’s handwriting. Many character traits are revealed by the way a person writes. It will be a help to the HR manager to be able to isolate the character traits suitable for the job he is recruiting for so that he can ensure exact fitment.

An interview should always be conducted in a place where there are no distractions from other employees. It is a difficult task to make a decision about the candidate, when people interrupt the interview. The interviewer needs to focus entirely on the applicant and his responses.

The success of interviews is dependent on the way HR managers process or conduct the interview to get the right candidate on board.

Ref: TheManageMentor

Recruitment & Retention- Get the Right guy on board

The tight labour market prevailing in the economy today compels companies to optimise attempts to retain their best employees. Efficient and structured interviewing is essential to keep turnover rates low. Unstructured interview techniques result in high attrition.

Take a closer look at any interview process. Sometimes, time constraints prompt the interviewer to cut short the interview process. It pays to know a few techniques that would maximise the effectiveness of interviews.

At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer needs to be relaxed. Prior to a face-to-face interview, e-mails and telephone interviews helps the employer find a good cultural fit.

A detailed report should be made based on the telephone interview and the face- to- face interview that follows. At this stage, the interviewer cracks down on skills and potential weaknesses of the candidate.

The next step is to conduct an on the spot skill test. Besides checking for basic skills and performance under pressure, the tests measure the ability to respond quickly to new instructions.

It is also very important to base your decision on the candidate’s past records. An interesting technique to pick the right candidate is to analyse the candidate’s handwriting. Many character traits are revealed by the way a person writes. It will be a help to the HR manager to be able to isolate the character traits suitable for the job he is recruiting for so that he can ensure exact fitment.

An interview should always be conducted in a place where there are no distractions from other employees. It is a difficult task to make a decision about the candidate, when people interrupt the interview. The interviewer needs to focus entirely on the applicant and his responses.

The success of interviews is dependent on the way HR managers process or conduct the interview to get the right candidate on board.

Monday, March 2, 2009

10 Strategies for Maintaining Commitment in Tough Times.....

There are many factors that will influence which organizations come out strong at the other end our current economic turmoil. One of the most important:

* Will the good people stick it out until and when things start to turn around? ("The good people" being those with the skills and the passion to help fulfill an organization's purpose.)

What Difference Do Passion and Purpose Make?

You've seen this: Two people standing side by side, doing essentially the same work, and yet they have extremely different perceptions of the meaning of what they do. A favorite example: One worker sees her job assembling neonatal respirators as "helping to save the lives of premature babies." A colleague at her shoulder considers himself a "tube hooker-upper." There was a time -- in the dark ages of command-and-control management -- when tube hooker-uppers were the ideal employees. They were replaceable, compliant cogs in the machinery. Not anymore. The evidence keeps mounting that employee engagement and commitment pay off.

Organizations need as many lifesavers as they can get, especially now.

None of us can flip the switch for others when it comes to feeling positive or negative about work. But here are some strategies we've found useful with our clients to help create an environment in which people want to contribute in good times and not-so-good times:

1. Constantly speak to the value of the work your organization does. Meaningful work is a powerful motivator.

2. Involve people early and often in changes that substantially affect their work. In this economy, those kinds of changes are happening daily in some organizations, if not more often.

3. When involving people in decisions and changes, be clear about the level and type of input and involvement you want. Are you brainstorming? Are you looking for feedback about specific plans? And be clear about who is making the final decision so you don't create false expectations.

4. Give people options whenever possible -- in matters big and small.

5. Keep people updated about how you are faring in relation to stated objectives. People want to know the score.

6. Give people control over as much of their own work as possible. Tell them what needs to be done, not how to do it.

7. Create the expectation that complaints should come with solutions. Encourage people to identify problems, but also to suggest how to deal with them.

8. Push as much decision making as close to the people responsible for the work as possible. We all own our personal decisions more than those imposed on us.

9. Delegate as much important work as possible. It helps people learn, grow and feel more a part of the process.

10. Ask for and act upon people's ideas and opinions. You don't have to implement every suggestion, but every suggestion deserves a response, even if it is a "no" and an explanation why.

Make a Difference,

Ref: Brian McDermott

If Bad Hires Squeaked!

It might seem like a rather odd time to write an article on hiring when so many companies are not. Determining the need to improve upon one's hiring process, and making the changes, is something that can be done right now. Consistent marginal performers presently on board got there somehow. They weren't good hires that suddenly changed after their start date. Poor performance can be traced back to incorrect assessments and the ill-fated decision to hire. Yet many companies only address poor performance with employee counseling and discipline stopping short of fixing the real problem - how they got hired.

* How Effective Are Interviewers At Hiring High Performers?

When the economy is robust and the unemployment rate is low, the supply and demand model favors the applicant, not the employer. Companies can struggle just to fill all their openings. However, hiring High Performers does not require a flood of applicants. If you do need more, you can always get creative. In any labor market, one of the best ways to increase the pool to choose from is to turn your current employees into extended recruiters. Create a referral bonus program and get the word out. Make a big deal about each bonus you pay and it will catch on. But even with quantity, there are times we mistakenly hire poor performers thinking they're good choices. The opposite occurs as well. Without realizing, we say, "No Thanks!" to applicants that would do a good job. More important than a quantity of applicants is our ability to accurately recognize quality. Discerning the difference between who is motivated to do the job and who is motivated to get the job involves more than just assessing a candidate's skills. Without knowing how to properly identify the best, many unskilled interviewers are forced to rely on their gut to tell them which candidate is best. This produces good results sometimes and bad results other times. Improving your selection process involves improving the effectiveness of your interviewers.

* Many people believe that their years of interviewing experience automatically make them an effective interviewer.

This one is my personal favorite. The biggest roadblock to improving hiring is convincing interviewers they need training. More managers come to workshops kicking and screaming in defiance, stating they have too many important things they need to be doing, but leave professing it was the most valuable training they ever had. If a company is already filled with top performers, then indeed, interviewer training is unnecessary. However, if you track and review hiring stats, many companies find they have too few top performers. And, it's no wonder. Typically, 80% or more of those making the hiring decisions have had little or no formal training on how to hire the best. For those who have had some training, it's usually just the legal do's and don'ts, and some interviewing basics.

Many interviewers bring with them what they learned at prior jobs. When one company asked their interviewers to send copies of their interview guides to HR, they received 75 different ones. There was no consistency. Another company had a standard interview format but their training focused mainly on how to keep the company out of litigation. They provided no specifics on how to hire high performers. Since the full cost of bad hiring are typically not tracked, it's hard to say which costs more - poor performers or lawsuits. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, even if both wheels need it. If only bad hires would squeak a little louder.

* We track time-to-hire and cost-of-hire but we don't track quality-of-hire or quality-of-turnover.

Are we saying fast and cheap hires are always good? Do we really not care about the quality that comes into and goes out of our company? In many companies, there is a lack of accountability for the costs associated with each poor performer hired. It's not tracked. There is no line item on a P & L for the lost productivity and sales from hiring a substandard employee. If there were, hiring would suddenly become more important. If a manager's bonus was tied to his staffing effectiveness, you'd see him seek out the training. Both the cost and the time-to-hire are valuable pieces of information, but what matters most is the quality of hire.

Low turnover numbers, without taking into consideration job performance, can be deceiving. It all depends on who's leaving. Turnover should be tracked not by voluntary and involuntary, but rather by percentage of high performers who move on. Effective exit interviews should be used to gather the "real" reason top performers leave. Only accurate feedback can result in changes that improve retention. Luring back the departed best is always a good way to increase a company's High Performer percentages.

If you'd like to improve your hiring effectiveness, here are some things you can do now:

* First, gather as much past department, or company, hiring results as possible. Break current employees into three performance categories: High, Average, and Poor Performer. Current evaluations can be a simple way to do this. Then divide the total number in each category by the total number of company employees, to determine your percentage in each group. It doesn't include recent turnover but it will give you a baseline to compare future hiring results with. Many company percentages create a bell-shaped curve with 20% on each end and 60% performing at an average level.

* Take the time to survey those currently involved in your company's employee selection process, as well as those being groomed for promotions involving this responsibility. Find out in detail about prior training, i.e., legal, basics, behavior-based, etc. Since years of experience does not always equal good hiring skills, knowing who needs training and who doesn't may be tough to determine. True effectiveness is determined by an interviewer's results and without prior statistics it can be hard to calculate. Many interviewers tend to embellish on their successes and forget the rest. Establishing an across-the-board training program that gets everyone on the same page may be what is best.

* Track effectiveness going forward. Have each interviewer sign-off on their decision to hire. Create a simple form (contact Hire Authority if you need assistance). Turnover numbers should not lump top performers with the poor performer turnover. It should be broken into at least two groups: those rated average and above who left, and those rated lower. Include the interviewer(s) responsible for the hire. Hiring will never be 100% effective. Every interviewer will have a mis-hire now and then. For those responsible for several, make additional training mandatory. Every job opening is an opportunity to fill the position with someone who will outperform the one before.