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Articles Talent Acquisition - Assessments

Job References Real Calls vs. Automation

All companies expect job references, aka professional and employment references to be conducted prior to making an offer of employment or shortly thereafter. Nine times out of ten these are pre-determined references provided by the candidate. Some may well include former bosses, former or current colleagues, and industry references.

That is the real question. Many of these are in fact “personal relationships” where the person(s) providing the employment references will give a glowing reference (call it pre-defined or pre-arranged) that is neither spontaneous and often times misleading. Since I am obligated to deliver a short list of candidates, I do not wait for a pending offer to conduct employment references and comprehensive background checks.

Don’t Use Outdated Process for Job References

 

 

In the 21st century, we live in a constantly moving and increasingly social media world.  Employees’ reputations – both professional and personal – can impact a company’s corporate image, affect how they are viewed by customers and vendors, and can project either a positive or negative social image of the company.  With that in mind, the employment verification call that includes employment references aka job references directly from Human Resources or the supervisor of said former employee is useless fodder.

job-referencesSame goes for accepting verbatim without question those provided by the candidate as they are so often former colleagues who are great friends unwilling to look past a biased lense. After identifying a target list of potential candidates through my Rolodex, networking, and referrals, I conduct one to two pre-screening interviews with the objective of understanding the motivations, skills/experience, and accomplishments of those potential candidates. If I am satisfied, they move forward to deeper interviews on my candidate shortlist.

 

Use Behavioral Analysis Prior to Making Job References Calls

 

 

I have the potential shortlisted candidates take an online 10 minute behavioral survey. This customized testing produces a Behavioral Analysis on a candidate’s motivations, values, decision making traits, aptitudes, communications style, and whether they are a Natural Fit with the team AND the role.Once armed with that analysis, I have sufficient data needed to conduct professional job references calls that are relevant to the role itself. Most search firms simply accept employment references provided solely by the candidates.

What I ask from each candidate is for two each of the following current or former (within last 5 years) by name, phone, email, title, and relationship as follows:  superiors/managers they reported to, subordinates that reported to them, internal customers in their respective positions, external customers, peers or colleagues (professional references NOT like any of the above), and personal and/or community go one step further in validating the list of these employment job references requested of the candidates.

I research, identify, and cold call former internal/external customers, colleagues, and vendors that were NOT supplied. These validate the professional references the candidate provided while at the same time reveal the best unscripted job references possible.There are a growing number of companies who save time by automating job references checks.

Some are pre-defined standard Human Resources types of questions. Others allow you to add your own questions for professional references checking. Thee system sends out emails, the contacts answer the questions online, and you get the results.The problem here is that the human factor does not exist. You cannot hear and ask additional questions based upon what you actually hear and perceive, as well as lacks ability to build a relationship with these professional employment job references.  The truth is that I gain new relationships, fresh perspectives, and sometimes additional retained searches by conducting professional job reference calls the best way possible.

 

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Articles Talent Acquisition - Assessments

Candidate Assessments Often Fail Team and Role Fit

Corporate recruiters and staffing firms utilize various forms of screening interviews and candidate assessments but fail to measure role fit and team fit to help determine who makes the shortlist for for the Hiring Manager to consider.  For executive recruiters it’s a combination of interview notes, references, details about accomplishments, and the recruiter’s gut feeling that these are the candidates to consider. Corporate recruiters and large staffing firms often add some type of DISC based behavioral test or aptitudes testing to help in their candidate assessments.

Candidate Assessments Fail on Team Fit

In the end the Hiring Manager thinks they are getting the best candidates available according to the recruiter’s gut feeling, the interview committee’s thoughts on a relatively short interview, and one or more candidate assessments (according to their HR, corporate recruiting/talent acquisition group, or external recruiter). But all too often failing to make sure the candidates being considered fit the role and are a team fit that will be a positive impact on team dynamics. What ends up happening is that a “C player”, a body that shows up and can perform the tasks but adds no real value, is hired.

Time after time I hear from VPs that within 6 months, a year or two AFTER a new hire that that “x” employee is okay, but he/she wishes the employee had the insight and ability to make better decisions, develop effective cost savings, or improve deliverables.  This puts an added burden on the rest of the team that employee is working within, as well as the VP or manager who must figure out a way to make up for that employee’s lack of added value.

Team Dynamics are Improved with Proper Candidate Assessments

Hindsight shows that the candidate assessments are resulting in a shortlist delivered to the Hiring Manager prior to the face-to-face interviews and hire failed to address whether that candidate would be a “natural fit” for the team and what about that candidate would bring “real value” to making the overall team better.  The most common, and mistakenly, the worst determining factor, is based primarily on whether the candidate has the skills, experience, and track record of past accomplishments to do the job.

This is a rote exercise where the recruiter matches up the responsibilities of the role with past work history and matches requirements with skills on a resume. The Hiring Manager and his/her interview team then “guess” if the candidate’s personality and communications style will tell them id he/she is a team fit.  Yes that is a guess as those latter parts are determined by a few or a committee whose members spent at the most a few hours in a prefabricated interview process face-to-face with the candidate.

Tragically, these candidate assessments and screening processes result in recruiters delivering the “C player” and occasionally a “B player” or the company hiring someone who will reveal they lack in key interpersonal areas or were the wrong team fit.  What the recruiter should have done is take the objectives, aka the end game of the role into consideration. Responsibilities on a job description rarely give more than a very brief sentence or two about the objectives.

The recruiter should get with the Hiring Manager to discuss the short-term and long-term objectives of the role apart from the responsibilities. The second factor is whether the potential candidate is a cultural and team fit.  This is where the recruiter fails most often as companies are too eager to use a corporate public image profile of their culture they would either like the public, their employees, or customers to believe in or that they desire to attain.But the truth is EACH DEPARTMENT is unique.

Candidate-AssessmentsOne needs to consider the team profile the candidate will be working within to then analyze if a candidate is a team fit.  This means taking into consideration that team’s natural and adaptive communications styles, values and motivations, and decision making traits in order to identify a Team Profile.

Since we are not all born and raised in the same place, geographical culture, education, religion, and family dynamics of individuals play a big part in this – especially in the relational side of how one views his/her self and views others.

Many vendors provide different forms of scientific, or skills-based, or psychometric, or behavioral testing and candidate assessments software.  Most are one-size fits all in their approach and fail to take the skills, interview notes, and other aspects into consideration.

And without FIRST developing an ACCURATE Team Profile, you cannot know whether that candidate will be a “natural fit” as these tests and assessments are too one-sided. Sadly, this leads to often hiring the wrong person.

The third factor is the relevant accomplishments. Again this all too often is another rote exercise where recruiters miss the boat. Just because candidate “x” has this and that accomplishment for a direct competitor does NOT mean they will have similar success in a new role.  You have to look at the team fit, company culture, team profile, and customer base dynamics he/she was working for in order to verify the accomplishments are really relevant to THIS new role.

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Articles Talent Acquisition - Assessments

Poor Executive Performance What to Do and How to Avoid It

Dealing with a poor executive performance can be frustrating. It can be complex and time consuming to make sure you get the right result – an improvement in their performance, or failing that, them being managed out of the organisation in a fair and legal way.It is likely you will meet with a poor executive performance from senior management at least twice; the first time to tell them how their performance is ineffective and set targets for improvement, and the second to review their progress and decide about their future.

In practice, you may have several other steps to follow, but the conversations will follow the same pattern, and if you master that pattern, you will find it easier to deal with any conversation about performance effectively.  And what is the pattern? You prepare. You talk. You listen. You consider. You decide. You communicate your decision. In basic terms, it is as simple as that.

Prepare

 

Preparation involves making sure you know the Board of Directors policy and what authority they or you must make decisions; you know where the poor executive performance falls short (and you have specific examples), you’ve planned how you want the meeting to go, you’ve given the executive appropriate notice and information in accordance with policy, and you’ve identified a suitable time and venue.

Talk

 

Next, you talk. You may have a predetermined structure to follow or perhaps an agenda you have drawn up, in either case, you need to explain the reason for the meeting and what you want to achieve – to discuss the performance issues and what needs to be done about them. Then you give them the evidence of their performance shortfalls.

Listen

 

Now you give the executive the opportunity to talk and you need to listen. The quickest way to make sure someone doesn’t engage with you is to make them think you’re ignoring what they say. And the only way you are going to get an improvement in performance is if they are working harder, better, or differently. You need their participation. That said, if they refuse to make the effort, then you can still act. It’s not about handing over control. It’s about managing the situation.

It may be that there are some issues that you’re not aware of. They may not have been properly mentored to carry out that objective or task. They may have to rely on a third party which is causing the problems. They may have a health problem that impacts on their ability. There can be as many reasons as there are staff.

They may also get emotional. You might face anger or distress. You can never tell how someone will react until you’re in that situation. Don’t let this side-track you. If they become too emotional to carry on, take a break, but always make sure you get back to the matter at hand.  As a rule, having evidence of poor executive performance issues makes it easier to deal with any emotional reactions since it is harder to ignore facts. It also helps you deal with those who might use an emotional reaction as a tactic to delay the discussion.

Consider

 

This leads neatly on to considering the information you now have. No effective Board member makes a business decision without having the relevant facts or without weighing the options. Performance management is as much a business decision as any other issue you will face. Compensation is not the biggest budgetary outgoing, as in reality poor executive performance can cause a damaging ripple or delay in carrying out the business strategy or impact your market share or customer confidence and that can cost not only millions over the course of two or three years. Dealing with poor executive performance issues is a key opportunity to ensure you get the best return on that investment.

Decide What to do about Poor Executive Performance

 

Now you have the decision to make. You’ll know from your preparation which options are open to you: it may be a verbal or written warning, it may be dismissal. Whatever it is, ensuring that you have been fair and followed policy will mean your decision is more likely to stand if the executive decides to challenge it. It would be unfortunate to end up fighting a legal battle and losing, just for the sake of following the process properly.

Communicate

 

Once you have made your decision, you need to communicate it in the most appropriate way. Face-to-face is usually best, with written confirmation including an action plan. This should be given to him/her as quickly as possible to both capitalise on the momentum from your discussion and to reinforce its importance. There should also be clear demarcation between responsibilities, especially since the executive is the only one who can improve their performance.

And how do you know if you get it right? The executive goes away knowing what they should do, how they must do it, when they need to do it by, they have no illusions about the part they must play, they know the support they can expect from you the most senior management and the Board of Directors, and they understand the consequences of not meeting their targets.

And finally, it can be uncomfortable for any CXO or Board member having to have these discussions with one of their executives, but if you do it in a fair, reasonable, and supportive way, you can be their biggest ally, even if, in the end, it doesn’t work out.

How to Avoid Poor Executive Performance

 

 

Studies from Leadership IQ, SHRM, and many others have revealed repeatedly that the most failure by executives is lack of interpersonal skills.  But really it goes much deeper than that.  The executive may have outstanding KPIs and accomplishments throughout their career, but in this instance, seems to be failing.  It is not always the individual’s fault as changes to the most senior executive staff or ownership of the company can also be a key reason for poor executive performance.

One of the first things we do at NextGen Global Executive Search is to use scientifically based psychometric surveys of the team an executive role will be working with. Depending on the level of the role, this could include Board members, CXOs, SVP, internal customers, and in the case of a vital role in sales or support, we include key external customers.

The resulting data is compiled from these 5 to 8 surveys into a Composite Team Analysis. It tells us the values and motivations, relational communications style, decision making and management traits of the team.This in turn gives our staff a good idea of the target candidate profile from a team fit perspective. The easy part, as any good retained executive search consultant will tell you, is finding a good role fit takes a lot of hard work and documented proof to insure you have the right shortlist.

Poor-executive-performance-issues-300x225Even on difficult searches – I’ve had several of “finding the needled in the haystack” where there were a very limited number of individuals who could meet/exceed the role objectives, it’s still the easier part of a search.

Before proceeding with cold calling and networking, we develop a Search Strategy that details what we are looking for in role fit, team fit, measurable past KPIS, relevance and depth of industry relationships, investor relationships, market cap, market share, turnaround where appropriate, etc. After all, the entire reason for retaining an executive search consultant is because you want the “A players” brought forth, the 14% of the entire workforce that produces 8 to 10 times more than B players.

With CXO and SVP roles, you cannot afford to miss. Same goes for key functional leaders, so that’s not limited to the most senior executives.Now let’s get back to how you can potentially avoid poor executive performance and IMPROVE it. If your retention rate starts to go down, market share or customer support is dropping, revenues are declining, or poor morale seems to be increasing, the worst thing you can do is panic or make staffing decisions based solely on those metrics.

Before doing so, entertain the low cost involved with scientifically based Team Alignment and Individual Team Performance.  We’ve done this for several clients – big and small – and what we have found is that some individuals are simply on the wrong team or that the teams themselves were simply improperly aligned to succeed.  It goes back to team fit. Each department in any organization has different teams and those teams are made up of individuals.  Having too many similar strengths and weaknesses means a team cannot learn and produce effectively.

The counterbalance of any team is having an effective leader, a coach, a technical or sales mentor, an interpersonal skills expert, a geek, etc. – if properly aligned these seemingly different individuals have the right balance of identified strengths and weaknesses that those traits can be effective through action plans.   In a very short time, realignment and proper positioning of teams can increase production dramatically.  How many of you have ever used this method?

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Articles Talent Acquisition - Assessments

New Hire Onboarding Process Increases Productivity

The new hire onboarding process, for so many companies, is crammed into orientation or fails.  New hire onboarding increases productivity when used correctly.  Unfortunately the main causes for onboarding failure are two-fold.  One is Human Resources tries to use a “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Secondly, it involves too much valuable time of executives to follow the onboarding plan.

The executive recruiter found the “A Player you need.  Your expectations are that the new leader or key staff person you just hired will make an impact sooner rather than later.  You’ve made an investment in strategy, compensation, and a recruitment fee.  Now is the time to utilize a CUSTOMIZED new hire onboarding process to increase the potential of gaining a Return on your Investment.

If you had engaged an executive search firm to recruit for a key position at any level, the recruiter should provide a custom employee onboarding set of tools based on the role and team dynamics. Doing so results in the new hire meeting performance objectives sooner and being retained longer.  A best practices employee onboarding process will help you accomplish all of the above when designed and facilitated as a customized, one-on-one version.

The Type of New Hire Onboarding Process that Works

In order to design, document, and deliver a viable, easy to utilize new hire onboarding process that works requires a few hours each month for both the new hire and manager he/she reports to.  The guidelines should consist of a psychometric based team profile, the new hire’s role fit and team fit analysis, a personal action plan for the new employee, a mentoring / coaching guideline, and a measurement tool.

Many companies spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars with so-called Human Resources or People Management firms or psychology-based firms that in the end produce a one-size-fits-all model based on a corporate profile / corporate culture.  They are very time consuming so rarely are they carried out for new employees to fruition. To make matters worse, often it is handed over to HR, who is not part of the individual team the person was hired for and their focus is on orientation and “corporate culture” assimilation rather than how the new hire assimilates into the team he/she will be working within.

Facilitated correctly, the plan should smoothly and quickly assimilate the new employee into the team culture, not just the company culture.  By capturing profile data about the new hire, his/her direct reports, and the organization, a plan is developed for maximizing understanding, positive communications, and relational communications effectiveness.

An effective new hire onboarding process ensures the new executive  or employee  knows exactly what the senior team expects and receives specific feedback early, helping him/her to establish effective influential networks, social, community, and professional, internal and external relational communications and conflict resolution skills.  The end result is higher retention because the phased activities lead to deeper engagement, innovation, and job fulfillment levels.

How About Costing You ZERO for a Custom New Hire Onboarding Process?

NextGen Executive search charges NOTHING to deliver a custom new hire onboarding process with each new hire we place.  Our placements average 3.5 years still on the job retention rate.  The employee onboarding new hire process will provide a good initial experience for a new hire and lay a strong foundation upon which to build loyalty, inspiration, innovation, and high performance.

Looking to fill a key executive position in your company? Contact us today for a free retained search consultation or download our award winning recruitment process.

 

How to Evaluate an Executive Search Firm
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