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Monday, August 27, 2012

Selection 101: Skill vs. Will

You need to hire someone new for your team.  You start by considering the job description (hopefully you have one for all of your positions) for the opening and post the position through the best recruitment channels you've identified for your needs. 

You realize though, that most of what your job description outlines is task based, and it does not consider what desirable "fuzzy" attributes a person should have to get the job done and fit in with the culture of your company.  You've run into the skill vs. will dilemma.



Skill vs. Will- What are we talking about? 

  • Skill- can they do your job?   If you are recruiting for a welder- can they weld; for a server, can they wait tables- take people’s orders and get them right, deliver them to a table, clean up and make correct change or run a credit card transaction.


  • Will-  Do they have the self-motivation, passion or desire to do your job? Do they love to weld? Do they have the attention to detail to get it done right? Do they like to greet customers with courtesy and accuracy, etc.  Will they fit in with the culture of your organization?  


In the long run,  will is more important.  You can teach skill, but you can't will will to happen. 

Select Wisely

Here are some ideas for assessing both at one time in order to make a wise selection decision: 


1. Behavioral based interviews: 

Driven by the notion that past behavior predicts future performance.

Examples of Questions: 

Will (culture):  "Tell me about a time that you had a conflict with a co-worker.  How did you handle it." 


Skill and will: "Tell me about a time that you had a customer complain to you in person.  What was the situation and how did you address it?”


More skill based: “Describe a time that you had a machine fail.  How did you determine what was wrong and how did you go about fixing it?”

For the most effective interviews, research shows*: 
1. Rapport building should take place at the beginning of the interview

2. Evaluation standards should be set to score each item/question asked

3. Questions should reflect assessing job related behaviors

4. The same questions should be asked of all applicants

5. Have the same person(s) interview all applicants



2. Work them for a day: 
Great because:

  • Assesses whether they can do the job
  • Assesses how they interact with the team
  • Gives them a realistic job preview- what the job is, how much a day’s pay is for

How do you assess will through your selection procedures? 

*source- Human Resource Selection- Gatewood, Feild, Barrick, 2008



Monday, August 20, 2012

Recruiting Strategy: Grow Your Own

I talked last week about the 4 levels of recruiting strategy that I shared in a presentation entitled "Finding and Keeping the Right Staff".   I challenged the audience of business leaders to also think about what their responsibility is in growing their own talent as a form of recruiting strategy.

Where I live, people complain a lot about the skills gap, particularly in manufacturing.  I think you can find the conversation going on in most of the U.S. where the ability to find skilled labor is a challenge.  Employers like to point fingers at the family, the community, and in particular the educational system for not turning out skilled talent.  While I echo the thoughts that is partly the responsibility of these entities to supply skilled labor to business and industry,  I do agree with Peter Cappelli's sentiments about Why Good People Can't Get Jobs (Thanks to Ellen Didier with Red Sage Communications, Inc. for sharing this article with me!)

Basically, Cappelli argues that employers should take responsibility for closing the skills gap by hiring good people and then training them to meet their needs.

Want to take your recruitment strategy to the next level?  Hire interns in high school or college or start a co-op or apprenticeship program.  You may find increased talent levels and increased loyalty through the grow your own mentality.

An Example

I was meeting with a rapidly growing machine shop last week.  The Director of Operations told me that their welder is 75 years old, and they were having trouble finding someone externally to eventually replace him.  So what did they do? They picked a entry level rising star on their shop floor and he is now training one-on-one with the welder to eventually step into his role.  The company couldn't have a better trainer to train him and the rising star couldn't have a better opportunity to learn an in-demand skill.

The Question

Do you think employers should bear responsibility in closing the skills gap?   If so,  what is the best way to address growing new talent? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stair Steps of Recruiting Strategy

I was fortunate to be invited to give a presentation entitled "Finding and Keeping the Right Staff"  last week.  The next few blog posts will feature advice given from this presentation.   People should be every company's greatest asset, so recruiting and retaining people should be the top priority for any business. 

Recruiting Strategy- The Stair Steps


The key to any recruiting strategy is to know what works best for your business and know what the best sources for recruiting are based on the talent you need.   What works for one, may not work for another, and it is important to keep up with which sources lead to the best hires for you.

In general, though, these steps are hierarchical.  A step up means an increase in effectiveness in finding talent, and in most cases, and increase in cost per hire.   Each level has an old way and a new way of doing things. 

Step 1: Place a "Help Wanted" Sign.   Old Way:  In your business window.  New Way: On your company's website.  If people come to you, whether it be because of customer foot traffic or because you are an employer of choice and people stalk your webpage for new job openings, this method may be the best route for you.  It is by far the least expensive.

Step 2:  Place a "Help Wanted" Ad.  Old Way: Advertise your job opening in the newspaper.  New Way: Post your job on the hundreds of job posting sites that are out there.  The key, where will the talent you need be searching for job openings?  Need a skilled craftsman, the newspaper may be your best bet.  Need a computer programmer with specific skills that may not be as readily available in your area, a national job posting site may be best.   Target your audience by considering postings with professional societies or organizations or college career centers (which may be free).

Step 3: Hire a Headhunter or a Staffing Agency.   Need someone quickly and want to test them out before making a hire, a staffing agency may be your best option. Need skilled talent and have no time for recruiting, a headhunter may be your best bet.   The key: Weigh the cost with the benefit before you sign a contract. These services can be expensive. 

Step 4:  Network to find the best people.    This is the best way to find the passive job seeker who may be your next superstar.  In general, the best talent can be found with those that are gainfully employed and aren't even looking for a new job.   Just as my husband tells me that everything we have is for sale for the right price,  everyone is for hire for the right price and situation.
Old way: Get out there and meet people at professional events, community events, etc.  Heck, you may be able to find your next best customer service rep in the drive through line at your favorite and friendliest fast food restaurant.   New Way:  Use online professional networking sites like LinkedIn to seek out the passive job seeker that has the skill sets and talent that you need.  The Key: Everyone is for hire!

What have you found to be your most effective recruiting method? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Punching the Time Clock May Not Be All It's Cracked up to Be


An article in HR Magazine this Month profiled a book titled Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work  by interviewing one of the authors about the concept of future work.  Defined as "...work that is driven by business goals and led from the top. It gives people autonomy over where, when and how they work. It's about treating people as adults and trusting them."  

This concept is driven from current leadership thinking (the theorist call it Theory Y Leadership) that people can and should be trusted, contrasted with the old style of leadership (Theory X) that focuses on command and control.  The author argues that command and control is no longer the "currency in the workforce of the future".  

Many of us still struggle with concept of flexible work, allowing people the autonomy to work when, where and how that they want to.  We are geared towards thinking that we pay people for time in a seat at an office instead of for the work and results the achieve.  However, many people are making a business case for flexible work arrangements.

Why do it?

If implemented properly flexible work can lead to:

  • Increased productivity 
  • Increased loyalty which leads to lower turnover
  • Lower costs (in office space, equipment, hiring and recruiting costs due to reduced turnover)
  • Lowered risk of business disruption 

How to do it

Here are some options for flexible work taken from "The Business Case for Flex"  HR Magazine (April 2012)


Flex time. Altering start or finish times while maintaining the same number of regularly scheduled hours.
Compressed schedule. Extending the start and finish times to compress scheduled hours into fewer days.
Reduced hours. Working fewer than the standard work hours.
Flex place. Routinely working away from the assigned office, including working from home, a remote office or a satellite location.
Job share. Sharing a position with another employee on an ongoing basis.

Interested in experimenting with flexible or future work?  What would be your first step to implement?  Already gone down the flex route?  What benefits have you seen?


August Leadership Carnival

The August Leadership Carnival is up featuring one of our recent posts!  Check out some great reads on leadership here:  http://www.hrbartender.com/2012/training/august-leadership-development-carnival-summer-reading-edition/