Showing posts with label Recruiting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recruiting. Show all posts

August 28, 2014

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy, Integrity Squared}

I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 

Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?

So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)...then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!

Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green...not sure why this is their slogan) that said:

Passion 

   X

Purpose

This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet's top 3 items for recruiting. 

With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.

The resulting function: 

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}

Now that's a recruiting formula we can all follow--thank you Mr. Buffet. ;-)

(Source Photo: LinkedIn)
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May 6, 2014

How NOT To Interview For A Job

So I am at this place of business this evening, and I overhear someone trying to apply for a job.

Note, I feel bad for the guy who is looking for extra work, but the interview just is going all wrong. 


- Easy-Smeasy - He asks "What is the easiest part of the job?" Ugh, didn't sound exactly like he was looking for a challenge.


- Keep your head down - He exclaims, "And never do someone's else's job!" What about helping where the help is needed?


- Great facilities you got here - He ends with, "And when I work here, my kids are really going to love coming to use the facilities here all the time!" Not exactly, a what will I do for you strong ending. 


I didn't get to hear the whole interview dialogue, but this was enough to get the idea about some things not to do in an interview. 


The funny/sad thing was, I think this gentleman really thought that he was going to get the job after all. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 5, 2014

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

- While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it's place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points. 

- Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn't necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected. 

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can't really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board. 

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college. 

She's a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I've seen in 25 years of professional experience. 

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more. 

But she doesn't just do this with me, but with all her customers.  

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn't just take their orders, but engages them as human beings. 

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other...and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I'd conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I'd probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job. 

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.  

Why?

Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos. 

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she'd never make "the cert" (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she's currently working in a coffee shop. 

Something is wrong that we can't easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don't have the perfect checklist answers. 

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it's not checklist-driven, then it's usually not at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2014

Amazing Amazon

So Amazon should be renamed Amazing, because they are.

They are the best online retailer--love 'em!

SELECTION: Amazon has everything. 

PRICE: Amazon is reasonably priced.

SPEED: Amazon Prime gets you your goodies delivered in under 48 hours. 

RETURNS: Amazon takes returns easily; virtually no questions asked. 

Amazon is so customer focused that you can even email Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO himself, at Jeff@Amazon.com. 

Aside from their highly successful retail operation, they have the Kindle tablets, Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing, Kiva Robots for warehouse operations, and more. 

So what's the secret of their success?

One thing, according to the Wall Street Journal, is their tough hiring practices. 

Amazon has "several hundred" interviewers called "Bar Raisers" that give candidates extremely thorough interviews.

Bar Raisers typically have conducted "dozens or hundreds of interviews and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to become stars."

Typically, it "takes five or six employees at least two hours each" to evaluate and vet an applicant. 

Amazon makes all this effort in recruiting to weed out people who are the wrong fit for the company. 

They believe that it's better to invest in a sophisticated recruiting process than to make costly hiring mistakes. 

While this certainly sounds like a well thought out and vigorous hiring process, the article makes little to no mention of performance measures showing that their hires really are better matches, have superior performance, or stay with the company longer. 

The one anecdote given was of a Bar Raiser who found a candidate for a programming job that "didn't know much about the specific programming language."

Barring some real statistics though, either you could conclude that Amazon's hiring process is truly superior or perhaps question why it takes them 5 to 6 interviews to do what other successful companies do in 1 or 2. 

Either way though, Amazon is a amazingly great company. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 2, 2013

A Typo, Right?

Looking for a job...

Check out the title for this position (advertised in the Washington Post).

Just imagine you can be a Virtual Executive A*s--and not even get paid. 

What's particularly funny is that people often complain that executives (the bad ones) are indeed the "A" word. 

Some typo in the ad that is--it is a typo, right? ;-)
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September 13, 2013

Communicating 360

My daughter, Michelle, is taking a university class in public relations and as part of the class she was asked to interview 3 people about their perceptions of this field.

So she posed some questions to me and here is how the interview went:


1. In your own opinion, what is public relations?  Why do you think of public relations this way?

Public relations is simple, it's about relations with the public--communicating and connecting with people about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, for whom you do it, when you do it, and where you do it.  It is includes marketing and sales, customer relations, investor relations, government relations, relations with partners, as well as crisis communications, and maybe even recruiting talent to the organization. 


2. What do you think of when you think of public relations? Why do you think of this/these?

When I think of public relations, I tend to think of many of the big, well-known brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Allstate, and so on--they do a lot of advertising and communicating with the public. They invest in this and it has a pay-off in terms of organization, product, and brand recognition.


3. What do you think the skills are that are needed to work in public relations?

Creativity, visual thinking, messaging, branding, marketing, sales, and psychology. 


4. Would you distinguish public relations from marketing? If so, how?

Public relations, to me, is broader than marketing. Marketing has to do with getting product awareness out there and selling, but public relations involves not only connecting with customers, but also investors, suppliers, partners, even the government, and international players. 


5. Can you give examples of what you think public relations is today? 

Public relations is how an organization interfaces and communicates with all its stakeholders.  It is mainly external or outward facing and differs from internal communications which is inward facing, like talking with employees. Public relations uses advertising, media, commercials, messaging, branding, logos, newsletters, mailings, to get the word out from the organization's perspective--good news and also countering bad news.


So how did this "IT guy" do with answering questions about public relations? 

Not my field, but maybe the MBA and private-sector experience helped, a little.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 7, 2013

Got References?

If you've ever done any hiring, you'll know that the reference checking can be the wildest part of the process. 

Some people have a lot of trouble coming up with good references or perhaps any references. 

In one case (actually more than one), calling the number provided for the candidate's supervisor went to the voicemail for the candidate him/herself--ah, clearly that doesn't help.

However, often candidates don't want their references checked until they have a clear intent of offer, which is sort of understandable--they don't want their references bothered unnecessarily and don't want to jeopardize their current position--but also a little bit of a chicken and egg approach, since you can't provide a real offer without checking references first. 

Then, there is a whole different category, where references are just bogus. In fact, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (14 January 2013), in an article called "Imaginary Friends as Job References," a CareerBuilder survey of 2,500 hiring managers found that "30% regularly find false or misleading references on applicants CVs."

Maybe candidates think that throwing around big names on their resume will just land them the job or at least get them a foot in the door--not fully realizing that the references will actually get called. 

One of the funniest anecdotes in the article was that of a hiring manager who actually found himself listed as a candidate's reference---I can hear the candidate fessing up now, "Oh, did I do that?"

Anyway, it's probably not a good idea to list people that don't know you, don't like you, or are not professional references like your mom, your boy/girlfriend, or your 5th grade teacher--then again, maybe that last one is okay if you're Doggie Howser, M.D. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Tulane Publications)
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September 25, 2010

Rethinking Topgrading

Topgrading is a best practice for hiring top performers, developed by Dr. Bradford Smart, and used by many leading companies.

According to Dr. Smart—managers have only a 25% success rate in hiring star performers:

  • 1 in 4 hires end up actually being a high performer (“A players”)
  • 2 of 4 disappoint as mediocre (“B players”)
  • 1 in 4 turns out being low performers (“C players”)

Smart blames this on ineffective hiring techniques—resumes, traditional competency/behavioral interviews, and candidate selected references—where candidates can provide incomplete information, play up accomplishments, downplay negatives, and deceive interviewers.

Instead, Smart’s practice of Topgrading calls for a much more thorough screening process and therefore one that yields up to 90% success rates; the techniques used include:

  • Reference calls specifically with former bosses, not just anybody provided by candidates.
  • Complete career histories including salaries, ratings, likes/dislikes, and reasons for leaving.
  • Competency/behavior interviews (same as in traditional hiring), but augmented by a second chronological interview that walks through with candidates all of their jobs (from the first to the last) in somewhat painstaking detail and includes all of the following: success/accomplishments, failures/mistakes, appraisals by bosses, and key decisions and relationships.

Topgrading also calls for Tandem interviewing—using 2 interviewers at a time. Again, the idea is to be thorough and thereby more careful in the hiring process to yield better results.

While I certainly agree with improving our hiring competencies and doing everything we can to hire the “best and brightest,” I think the premise of having everyone be an A player, all the time, is really more than a little na├»ve.

People are not things, like gems or coins that you trade and collect and see who has the shiniest, most valuable collection. Rather, people are human beings, and they come to work, as they do to all aspects of their lives, imperfect.

While I understand that Smart means by A player is not someone who is perfect, but “one who qualifies among the top 10 percent of those available,” and that we should of course strive to hire the top qualified available people for all our positions, I also believe that people come in all shapes and sizes and finding top quality is not a one size fits all (i.e. like a caste system), rather we need to find and match the right person to the right job.

Many will say, that prior successful behavior is the key determinate to future success, however, if your not failing, your probably not trying hard enough—so I think we need to look at people as a composite of who they are, what they’ve done, what their potential is, where do their interests lie, is it a god fit, and so on. It’s more than just are they “top 10” (grades, schools, appraisals, etc.). Remember the movie Rocky, he didn’t start out a top 10, but ended up the world champion.

In the end, we are all a lot more than our career histories and reference checks, and timing and fit have a huge impact on whether we are successful in a particular endeavor.

I know that I have certainly seen top performers from one job “fall on their face” in another job that was just wrong for them, and vice versa, people who failed miserably in one job (due to a misfit in culture, organization, boss, duties, etc.), thrive when they are in a better suited opportunity.

So Topgrading’s scientific approach to hiring has the potential of missing the finer point that people are complex organisms. The quantifiable approach is helpful, but only when coupled with qualitatively looking at the fit being the particular organization, job, person, place, and time.

Moreover, in searching only for the A players, Topgrading has the potential to perpetuate the way of thinking that we must only look for those who are robotic, conformists that get the best grades and appraisals, rather than breaking the mold and looking for those that are non-conformist, innovative, and put everything into question. Who will reward someone like that? Not everyone. So in some cases, it may actually be the A players that are the worst players—it actually depends on the situation.

In summary, I would say yes, Topgrade to do due diligence as a leader and manager in looking for and hiring the best talent, but recognize that people have ups and downs—sometimes due to the job, sometimes due to factors completely outside the job, and sometimes its their own undoing—but don’t expect that every one you hire will be perfect, are you?


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