Managers Need to be Assessed and Accountable for the Quality of Candidates They Hire and Improving Quality of Staff – Year Over Year

July 30th, 2013

Most organizations hold VPs, directors and managers accountable for business objectives and performance, but few hold these same leaders accountable for the individual caliber and individual performance of the staff they lead.

Management drives candidate/staff quality by setting standards and publically announcing those standards. However, it is very rare any follow-up or accountability accompanies these standards. To effectively deliver improved performance and staff quality, organizations must make this follow-up a significant part of leadership’s performance criteria. This includes both the quality of new staff hired (both internal and external hires) and the improvement of individual staff performance.

Change requires C-level executive sponsorship and will not be successful if only sponsored by middle management, this creates too much inconsistency.  It has to be made publically important and has to be constantly reinforced by the highest reaches of management.

Senior leadership plays the key role in creating a culture that rewards hiring high-caliber, top-performers and eliminates incompetent, unmotivated staff. No strategy (or change in strategy) depending on increased staff quality year over year can be effective without this culture change and public senior leadership support.

Performance management system

Beyond a public call for change from C-level executives, managers need to be accountable for the quality of both their hires and their staff.  Therefore, staff quality needs to be a large part of the VP, director, and manager-level performance evaluation.  This is done by establishing staff improvement as a performance metric.

Implementing an effective performance management program is required for success.  This program must consist of three components:

  1. Non-political – Any performance evaluation program must be non-political (and more importantly viewed as non-political). Processes must be put in place to keep politics out of the performance calibration. It is also important to use a 360-degree review for everyone in the organization at a minimum of once per year. With a 360-degree review, accurate feedback is provided from all staff levels, thus creating an accurate picture.
  2. Effective – Forced rankings are not necessary.  Simply instituting an ABC plan, where candidates are ranked either A, B, or C, or an MBO plan (based on performance) is more effective and less divisive. Theoretically, a leader to could have all of his staff be A players or C’s for that matter.
  3. Performance timeline – A performance timeline needs to be implemented.  Each year, managers are given a goal (measured by metrics) to produce incremental improvement in the quality of staff they have, either by hiring high-caliber staff, managing out incompetency, or both.

The need is critical.  Staff quality impacts almost every organizational aspect – culture, recruiting, employer brand, etc. By making staff quality a key component of a leadership evaluation, attention is placed on a high-impact issue.  Management understands that staff quality is important, and that they will be evaluated and incented to change and focus their efforts to hiring selectively and improving staff quality.

Honer and Associates understands this.  If you are looking to put together a customized Talent Acquisition Strategy – one that is designed to help you build a quality team, contact Honer and Associates today.  We are glad to help.

Interviewing is a 2-Sided Coin. With Passive Candidates, Selling the Company and the Position Count

July 15th, 2013

The candidate paradigm has shifted.

American corporations are used to interviewing candidates who are actively or semi-actively looking for another position. The organization has an expectation of a candidate coming into its environment, being treated however convenient, and then interviewed by interviewers who are unrehearsed / unprepared and having the expectation “the candidate would be lucky to have a position with our company”.

While the organizations do know the definition of a passive candidate, they have not yet translated that knowledge into what that means by modifying hiring managers/interviewers expectations and the overall thinking focused on the candidate selection process.

A passive candidate by definition is one who isn’t looking for another position actively, but if made aware of another interesting position, may pursue it. This alone makes a huge difference in the candidate’s attitude. The onus is on the interviewer and the company to acquire the information necessary from the candidate and provide them the data necessary to create the interest.

What is the major process modification necessary to attract the passive candidate? The organization and position must be “sold” to the candidate.  Passive candidates have jobs – potentially nice jobs they might not be interested in leaving for uncertain opportunities presenting risk.

How to get started

Within the interview process exists absolutes:

1)     Most want to see their potential, future work environment, and not be locked in a conference room for a marathon 3-4 interview process.  The candidate should see the environment no matter where the interview is conducted.

2)     Candidates need to be given breaks between interviews, offered water, food (lunch if appropriate).

3)     Candidates going through interviews need to be shown they are valued and will be appreciated. The same courtesies need to be paid as if they were a customer. No candidates should ever have bad things to say about a company after they have interviewed.

4)     Every candidate needs to receive the full attention of the interviewer (i.e. no cell phones, computers, pagers, etc.) and receive company recruiting and branding marketing materials.

5)     Do not make the assumption that candidates come prepared. They are as much interested in what the interviewer can do to impress them, information they can gain to determine interest vs. what they can do to impress the interviewing team.  Coming prepared for the interview and interviewing well doesn’t do one thing to validate outstanding past performance, depth of experience, or success related motivation. Keep in mind, the candidates are the ones being recruited and pursued.

During the first or second interview, someone’s role will be to gather candidate information.  This may be the hiring manager, a recruiter (either external or internal), or an HR person involved in the selection process.

The information gathered will provide all interviewers with solid information to build a solid understanding of:

  • Candidate’s reasons for looking outside their current employer?
  • Negatives or concerns the candidate might have about the potential employer and/or job?
  •  Candidate’s desired characteristics of a future role and company?
  • Candidate’s general and/or personal interests?

How to conduct the interview

This interview should be the last one and conducted as a separate, distinct part of the selection-process (perhaps lunch or dinner?) by a well-versed subject matter company expert. This person needs to be knowledgeable about the role, company, and candidate information. And, given that, be able to:

  • Subtly sell the company, the job, the brand, and the culture.
  • Have prepared topics that can be shared and discussed.
  • Address important issues around candidate information aligned with the information given by the candidate.
  • Strike a 50/50+ balance in the conversation. In any conversation, the one that talks the most feels better about the exchange.
  • Answer any questions or concerns the candidate may have before offer. This is not an evaluation meeting, one purely for the candidate. Don’t have this meeting if there is no intention to make an offer.

At Honer & Associates, we have over 30 years’ experience in effectively managing the interview process.  If you have any additional questions about interviewing proven IT professionals, please contact us at your convenience.