Should Skills Testing be a Standard Operating Procedure for Hiring?

By Dana Borowka, MA

I’ve noticed an interesting trend that I want to share with you. In the past 12 months we’ve been receiving a lot more questions about pre-employment skills testing. We’ve taken notice. Something has shifted. Companies that had never before considered using skills testing in their hiring process, now ‘suddenly’ had an interest in learning more. Other companies that had used skills testing only sparingly were exploring what additional tests were available.

Yes, something was up alright. As I talked with these companies the reason behind their intensified interest in skills testing became clear.

Elephant in the room by David Blackwell

The Elephant in the Room

Every company I spoke to was having an exceedingly difficult time hiring people that had the right skills for the job, no matter what the job. The elephant in the room during these discussions was that companies were getting burned time and time again. The cost of the hiring mistakes was escalating. Too many candidates who went through the screening and hiring process failed to perform up to expectations once on the job.

Anecdotally, I knew this was a big problem. Employers can’t be 100% certain that a candidate has the right skills based on resume, references, and interviews. Even in-depth work style and personality assessments, like we do for our clients, aren’t designed to verify job skills. I wondered just how big a problem it is. I did some research.

The Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire is equal to at least 30% of first year salary. “Wow”, I said to myself, doing some quick math in my head. Hire a $30,000 bookkeeper that doesn’t have the right bookkeeping skills, and there’s a $9,000 hit to the bottom line. Hire a $50,000 PC administrator without the right technical skills, write off another $15,000.

These numbers got me to think about what contributes to the high costs.

1. Lost time and productivity of the people involved in the hiring process
2. The new employee’s mistakes often have hard costs associated with them – poor service or product quality for example
3. The productivity of the new hire is well-below expectations
4. The possible negative impact on customers and your brand image
5. Training the new hire to achieve a skill-level they should have had in the first place
6. Replacing the employee

As managers we know the hassle and frustration attached to hiring someone without the right skills. What’s more, there are considerable hard and soft costs associated, too, as the list above shows and the Department of Labor statistics prove.

Is Skills Testing the Panacea for Hiring Mistakes?

With a problem this large we at LCS saw an opportunity. We’re now offering a catalog of online skills tests for our clients. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explore with you how skills testing is best used. I’ll debunk a few myths along the way.

How Skills Testing is Best Used

If you really want to improve the success of your new-hires, incorporate skills testing and personality assessments in the hiring process. Nothing is fool-proof, but believe me, if you do both types of testing together with smart interviewing, your new-hire success rate will go way up. The failure rate (and the costs associated with it) will drop like a rock.

I’ve been a proponent of skills testing for a very long time, IF they are used properly. Skills testing is a tool, like so many others available to managers. Tools can be misused. Tools can be trusted too much.

Here’s the point. Just because a candidate has the right skills for a specific role in your company doesn’t mean you should hire the person. A great skills test score doesn’t mean the person will be a great fit in your company.

The mistake that I’ve seen made by hiring managers is to place too much weight on skills test results. Good resume, good references, interviews went well, aced the skills test – fabulous, make that woman an offer fast!

Not so fast. Is her work style a good match for the role? Is her personality a good fit for the level of responsibility and interaction necessary? Skills testing doesn’t venture into these waters. This is the realm of the in-depth work style and personality assessment.

Skills Testing Only Works if you Know What Skill Level Matters

I can’t emphasize this point enough. If your company hasn’t identified the specific skills required for each position, a test is not going to be all that useful. Let me use a sports analogy.

A track coach has try outs for his sprint team. Five athletes show up wanting to make the team for the 100-meter event. The coach gets out his stop watch. Lines all five at the starting line and fires the starting gun. Bang. Off they run.

The coach looks at his watch as the first racer crosses the finish line several steps ahead of the others. Click. The fastest racer covered the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds. Better than the other four. Does the coach offer the racer a position on the team? He will if he doesn’t know what speed is necessary for his 100-meter squad to compete effectively. Sure, he’ll have a racer for the 100 meter event, but the team will never win. He won’t offer the position to any of the five candidates if he knows that a pace of at least 10.1 seconds is necessary to win in his conference. In this case the required skill is running the 100 meters in 10.1 seconds or less.

The Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Candidate

LCS is deeply involved in the active hiring processes of hundreds of clients. I make this claim just to point out that few companies are better positioned to observe and assess the hiring practices of so many companies. What we’ve noticed is companies tend to fall into two categories. Those that take too long to find and hire employees. And those who have found a way to hire more quickly and retain those employees. What is the difference?

There are many facets to this. Most are beyond the scope of this article, but one is very relevant. The companies who are the most successful realize that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist. They know it’s fool-hardy to spend valuable time and resources searching for the perfect person.

They identify the best person available and which areas will need to be developed in that person once hired. This change in strategy presents an integrated view of hiring and training. So, where does skills testing enter the picture?

Let’s go back to the race track. The coach has one athlete who ran the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds, a full second slower than a competitive pace. If the coach knows that a short period of training and conditioning can shave a second off the time, he’ll gladly bring the person onto the team. A diamond in the rough, so-to-speak.

Same philosophy holds with enlightened companies who use skills testing wisely. If you have a fabulous candidate who is missing a few skills that can be learned quickly, hire the person and build the training into the 90-day probationary period.

The skills test results tell you exactly what skills need to be learned. The training can focus on those areas.

This also makes it a lot easier and more effective when it comes time to buy the training, or arrange the mentoring in-house. You know exactly the skills to be gained.

LCS to the Rescue

After doing our research and talking with more clients about skills testing, we’re convinced this is a service we should be offering.
The catalog we’re offering has been hand-selected from tests Fortune 500 companies rely on in their hiring. These are time-proven, industry-accepted tests in the following categories:

• Accounting
• IT
• Office Software
• Language
• Industrial
• Customer Service
• Sales
• Math
• Honesty

I invite you to visit the Skills Testing page on our website that includes more information, including brief descriptions of the tests we’re offering.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2019

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

IT Department for a 21st Century Organization

By Majid Abai – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

The New Focus of the Modern IT Department

Since usage of computers became prevalent in business, organizations have increasingly relied on their information technology (“IT”) departments to automate processes, manage infrastructure and information systems, develop applications, provide reports and analytics, and to protect one of theMC900439264[1] most important assets of any organization: information.

Over the years, organizations have learned a few things associated with information, and management of this information; specifically within this century, IT departments have evolved from being application-centric organizations to information-centric organizations. The reasons for such evolution are as follows:

  1. Organizations have realized that information itself is a much more valuable asset than it was previously thought.
  2. In the past, companies focused on information stored in corporate databases (structured data). Within the past twenty years, organizations realized the value of information that is stored in other formats and in documents, emails, videos, audios, pictures, and other formats (unstructured).
  3. Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have proved that a company’s information will no longer reside only on the company’s internal servers and data centers.
  4. Advent of social media and Internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc., indicate that information about a company and its clients could also reside on other applications. This information includes feedback, customer service, outreach, reputation, and other forms of information not previous available in any private or public database.
  5. Increased availability of public and for-purchase data that could enhance an organization’s internal decision making has increased the need for new technologies — such as Big Data — to be implemented within organizations.
  6. The increasing power of mobile phones, advent of tablet computers, and access to Wi-Fi in all different areas have allowed employees of a company to contribute and perform their daily tasks from anywhere in the world.
  7. The increased use of websites and public-facing portals by organizations have necessitated the need for an advanced set of information security and governance by organizations in order to protect client, vendor, and other sensitive information stored within their internal and external data stores.

For the above reasons, IT departments either have evolved, or will have to, in order to address the new realities of this information age. This requires a shift to developing new ways of building teams and applications, protecting information, analyzing internal and external data, and utilizing new technologies that can address the new methods of doing business.

Contributing to the Bottom Line

MC900055040[1]Historically, in most organizations, IT has been considered a cost center by the business and has acted as a cost center internally. In the new landscape of the 21st Century, IT must change its mentality and endeavor to become a profit center for the organization by either helping increase the revenues or reduce the overall costs of the organization.

Obviously, this is easier said than done!

IT must still continue to perform a number of basic support tasks such as management of infrastructure and systems, performance monitoring and improvements, development, installation, and management of business support applications as well as other maintenance tasks.

In addition to the above-mentioned tasks, an advanced IT organization will collaborate with business to find ways to help the company increase revenues and reduce costs, and even recommend new technologies that could be showcased as an advantage over competitors.

Let me use some true examples to demonstrate this point:

  1. Company A is a local logistics company for refrigerated and frozen products. Essentially, a client company, such as a supermarket chain, will buy a series of refrigerated products, store them at Company A’s refrigerated warehouses, and, as needed, request that Company A distribute them to various stores. Historically, a supermarket’s supply manager would phone or email the logistics company for such distribution. This client has typically had limited visibility on the timetable for delivery of each product to each store. But Company A’s, IT department created a portal that not only allows the client supermarket’s supply manager to see the current inventory stored in each warehouse, and to request distribution to each store, but also provides distribution, transit, and up-to-minute delivery times. This technology has become a competitive advantage for Company A and has increased revenues by 12.5% annually.
  2. Company B is a veterinary hospital chain. A few years ago, IT developed a system that electronically analyzes every invoice generated within their practice management system on a nightly basis, using a set of business rules; the system identifies missed charges and notifies the hospital manager to review the bill, and if necessary, the manager can bill the client. The actual impact on the bottom line is proprietary, but IT has enjoyed an increased amount of recognition within the organization.
  3. Company C is a printing organization that provides custom print services for its clients. The IT department collaborated with business departments to research and implement a series of analytical systems, as well as a new Supply Chain Management system, that has been directly responsible for reducing the average cost of each order by 8%, while accelerating order completion times, which directly contributed to company’s profits.

None of the above organizations are large. They are considered medium-sized companies with limited IT resources. However, their IT leadership and team members don’t consider themselves a cost center. Executive teams at each company have empowered their respective IT organizations to think strategically. As such, IT departments have been bold enough to find niche areas that contribute to the bottom line.

Essentially, in those organizations, IT goals are aligned with business goals.

Aligning IT and Business Goals

It sounds simple and natural, doesn’t it? We take for granted that our IT departments are fully aligned with our other divisions and corporate goals. But are they? Have we taken steps to make sure that happens? You’d be amazed to know that more often than not, IT is many years behind the business and are not engaged with the strategic goals of the company.

Reasons for such distance are varied from company to company, but they tend to fall on a spectrum spanning the executive team, line management, and/or the IT department. I have listed a few of such reasons here:

•  Executive team hasn’t defined corporate goals. (Let’s assume, hope, and pray that this is not the case in any company!)
•  Executive team hasn’t shared goals with the rest of the management team.
•  Management team knows of the goals, but IT is not considered essential.
•  IT knows of corporate goals, but is more reactive (tactical than strategic). More on this subject in the next section.
•  IT doesn’t think that they could play a direct role in supporting corporate goals.
•  Mistrust between business and IT departments.

There is a major need for continuous conversation and collaboration between business and IT departments. At times, it feels as if business departments are from Venus and IT departments are from Mars. In many organizations, business views IT as a vendor and as such treats IT as one. In turn, IT considers business as a customer and would treat it that way. The result? In any major initiative, business will conduct its business case analysis, will make a go or no-go decision including a projected timeframe, and will then send high-level or even detailed requirements over the wall to IT. IT, in turn, provides a cost model to business, develops the software with minimal collaboration and interaction with business, sends the result over the wall back to business, and charges business for the work.

We would like to see IT and business departments as partners. We’d like to see IT invited early to the party, per se, and be involved at business case development and decision making process phases for a project. A strategic IT department will research the market and recommend potential technology alternatives that could improve the results of the project. Next, we’d like to see business and IT continue to collaborate on identifying success factors, mitigating risks, developing the project plan, assigning resources, and negotiating and managing vendors.

Such collaboration will result in less diversion from scope, a better software product, and — more importantly — increased trust and reliance on each other’s capabilities, and ultimately, alignment of goals.

In order for this to be possible, IT departments should be less tactical and more strategic in nature.

Tactical vs. Strategic IT Department

So, assuming that we have a strategic thinking IT leader, how does she go about ensuring that her department’s goals are aligned with the rest of the business?J0287005

A tactical IT department is purely focused on responding to the requests of the business in a timely and systematic manner. A tactical IT department is continuously putting out fires and completing tasks at the last possible moment. In such departments, planning is short term rather than long term.

A strategic IT department anticipates the needs of the business before the request is made. In such a department, planning is an essential part of any project. When requests are made by business, IT tries to push the envelope and identify additional possibilities for enhancing the project.

How? Simply by listening, anticipating, collaborating with business departments, and developing and cultivating highly functional teams (on both business and IT departments) who are focused on innovation, delivery, quality, and accountability.

Let’s use an example to demonstrate this point. In Company D, the executive team decides to increase the sales team by 10% within the next two years, as part of overall goal of eventually increasing sales by 40% within four years. A strategic IT team will immediately consider the impact of such increase on infrastructure and bandwidth within each of the company’s locations; evaluates the impact on new and existing clients, training, prospect management, and collaboration systems; collaborates with business to identify the impact on production systems; identifies gaps and risks within each of the above areas; and plans to reduce gaps and mitigate risks associated with infrastructure, systems, and functionality.

A tactical IT department will be reactive and will not do anything at this time. A year from now, when performance is reduced, IT will work with a vendor to increase bandwidth and some locations might feel stress due to increased usage for a while. IT will blame the vendor for not delivering on time. Next year, when the next set of salespeople is hired, this cycle will repeat.

IT Governance, Security, and Risk Management

IT departments in collaboration with business departments and organizational executives and board of directors should develop IT governance policies. IT Governance Institute (ITGI) defines IT Governance as:

Directing IT endeavors, to ensure that IT’s performance meets the following objectives:

•  For IT to be aligned with the enterprise and realize the promised benefits
•  For IT to enable the enterprise by exploiting opportunities and maximizing benefits
•  For IT resources to be used responsibly
•  For IT related risks to be managed appropriately

In this chapter, we focus on Security and Risk Management aspects of IT Governance. In the IT department of the 21st Century, an important function is to protect the company’s information — including clients, vendors, prospects, etc. — and to create processes for reducing and mitigating potential risks associated with such information.

Although protecting organizational information has always been an IT role, access to new technologies and information have made this task much more complex and daunting. This new set, as discussed previously, include:

  1. Access to new types of information: unstructured data, social media data, and public databases.
  2. Access to organizational information portals via web and mobile devices.
  3. Increased compliance protocols associated with keeping consumer, patient, user, and financial data protected.
  4. Increased potential of attacks from external entities and hackers.

In short, IT Governance areas focused on limiting risks, define a set of practices and policies that will protect various areas of IT against potential breaches and attacks. The above diagram, developed by Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), provides a great view of all areas an organization needs to consider for a setting and managing successful IT Governance policies.

Importance of Risk Management

IT departments should continually identify and test potential attack areas and mitigate risks. Many companies that have out-facing public and private portals have hired security companies that attack the portals, identify breaks and access points, and provide recommendations on how to fill such holes to protect the company from unwanted attacks.

KPIs of the Modern IT Department

Referring to the IT Governance chart above, a key element in delivering IT processes is to monitor and evaluate. Best practices for managing risk at this stage include the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) to help management identify trends and areas of concern. It is crucial that IT develop targeted and customized KPIs that will deliver useful and actionable data.

So, what should the key performance indicators of a modern IT department be? Uptime percentage? Number of development defects? Sticking to budgets? On-time delivery of projects?

IT department KPIs should be directly related to corporate goals and should embody the areas where the IT department’s success would directly impact the organization’s success.

I believe that a lot of organizations in general and IT departments in particular are focusing and tracking KPIs that, although important, are not key indicators, as they don’t reflect the true goals of an organization.

The following example would demonstrate this point:

You wake up in the morning in New York City and decide to drive south to Washington DC. You calculate the distance to be about 230 miles (project), expect to get there in about 3 hours and 30 minutes (time), and have a full tank of gas (budget).

Your goal is to get to Washington DC on time and on budget.

KPIs that you are measuring:

• In 60 minutes, you should have driven at least 65 miles.
• Gas gauge should be at ¾ full.

60 minutes into the trip, you check the trip odometer which is at 75 miles (ahead of schedule). Gas tank is at ¾ full. Therefore, KPIs indicate that you are ahead of schedule.

Except that you are heading north to Boston.

Your main goal was to get to Washington DC on time and on budget. Therefore, the main KPI should have been a compass or means to track direction.

Emerging Technologies

Another challenge of the IT department is to research and analyze benefits of emerging technologies, and, if needed, introduce and implement them in the organization. Currently, there are some great emerging technologies that could support many organizations by saving costs, increasing revenues, or both.

Big Data

Big Data seems to be a great buzz word these days. Everywhere you look, there’s an article about advantages of Big Data for an organization. But really, what is Big Data?

When you search “Big Data” on the Internet, you will find many different definitions. Our definition, below, provides an easy understanding of the expression:

“Gathering, integrating, mapping, and analyzing a collection of massive data-stores (both internal and external to the organization, and structured and unstructured) to gain competitive advantage or insight associated with one specific subject.”

MC900300848[2]The key to the statement above is our ability to gain insight from the analysis, in order to achieve competitive advantage — the insight can also be used to predicate an outcome. To achieve this, there must be a direct and specific action associated with the results identified as part of this experience. For example, a financial company can offer a micro-targeted set of products and services (e.g., a new mortgage, a preapproved platinum credit card, or life insurance) to an existing customer — based on information gathered from various internal and external sources — who has just called the bank to check on her mortgage. In another example, there are a set of new health prediction companies that analyze a client’s DNA (with permission of course) along with some information associated with her family history in order to provide insight about potential diseases in the near- or long-term future. Knowing this information, the company — and/or the healthcare provider — could offer potential lifestyle changes that could reduce the risk for such disease for that client.

IT departments should analyze and identify how their organizations could take advantage of data to increase revenues, decrease costs, and to identify new ways to market to their potential customers.

Mobile Enterprise

The expansion of mobile devices including phones, tablets, and smaller laptops, has enabled a more mobile workforce. Therefore, organizations need to realize that the new generation of workers will be more interested in using their mobile devices (both apps and mobile/tablet optimized portals) than getting to their office (or home office) and logging in on their laptop to do work. This applies to company’s own work force, as well as to their vendors and customers as well.

This phenomenon has created an opportunity for IT departments to collaborate with business and marketing departments on how to use mobile devices to unleash the power of their mobile employees, sales teams, clients, and vendors, in providing a competitive advantage to the organization.

For example, by offering mobile devices to its sales teams, a major business products organization could enable an outside salesperson to showcase the latest product catalogue, place orders, check inventory, and provide updates on a specific sales call. In addition, the outside sales team could be trained on the latest marketing material and messages, learn about the latest techniques and products, and listen to the daily message from the sales director. Such set of tools, could enable the company to increase revenues, and reduce travel and training costs, which could directly impact the bottom line.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing refers to utilizing processing power that is stored on virtual servers that are located in virtual private or public data centers, referred to as the Cloud. While different MC900431642[1]industries are migrating to the Cloud at different speeds and in various phases, we believe the days of hosting software on premises and on a company’s own servers are coming to an end. This will happen gradually as many organizations will continue to transfer their processing power to Clouds.

What is the advantage of such a move? Companies won’t have to worry about building small or large data centers full of various kinds of servers. In such cases, companies have to buy servers, storage, and bandwidth for the worst case scenario (once a month financial close), while for most of the month the servers run at 20% of capacity.

In a Cloud scenario, an organization could use “Just-in-time-processing.” In most Cloud installations, users will only pay for the processing power, storage, and bandwidth used and nothing more.

This will translate to tremendous reduction in purchasing and leasing costs for such servers, and provide immediate scalability at times of need.

Social Networks and Online Communities

Almost every company today has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. But the question is, what are they doing with such sites?

MC900332514[1]Most companies use such social networks to post their latest information and as such have a direct communication with their clients. However, only a few organizations take advantage of these followers — and non-followers — to provide sales, customer service, and product information.

Dell computer announced in 2009 that it had sold $6.9 million worth of computers, printers, and accessories via various marketing campaigns through Twitter . In another case, Zappos.com and Delta airlines respond to customer service problems via Twitter.

As I am writing these pages, Yahoo has announced the purchase of a public social network called Tumblr for $1.1B. Tumblr, at this time, has over 100 million members. Brands could consider how they could market to this 100 million member community.

Another way of interacting and attracting new customers is via private corporate social networks that would allow customers to learn more about the company and products while interacting with other enthusiasts of the same brand and providing feedback to the company. A number of Chief Marketing Officers and companies were truly leaders in taking advantage of this model. Apple, as part of its larger marketing plan, has gathered a major community of brand enthusiasts who are very interested in supporting other Apple customers.

Conclusion

As we have just discussed, a modern IT department is a strategic thinker and a partner of its business counterparts. A modern IT leader (whether CIO, VP of IT, or Director of IT) is trusted by the organization’s executives and is able to provide sound advice and recommendations that would directly impact the company’s goals and bottom line.

The modern IT department is strategic. It knows the business of the organization and is focused on organizational goals of not only this year, but 5 years from now. This IT department is focused on building better processes that will reduce costs, defects, downtimes, and risks. A modern IT department is continuously researching the market for new and advanced technologies that could provide a competitive advantage to the company. And finally, this IT department acts as a partner in the business — not just a vendor.

Reference: Boomberg.com: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=akXzD_6YNHCk

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Majid Abai is the founder and CEO of Los Angeles based The Abai Group, which offers independent advisory services to C-Level executives and Board members of organizations in areas of technology strategy, implementation, and management. It focuses on maximizing performance of technology departments and systems within IT organizations in order to help increase organizational revenue and customer loyalty while decreasing the overall cost of IT for over 30 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Management and is a Fellow of New West Minster College in British Columbia, Canada. Majid can be reached via email at Majid.Abai@AbaiGroup.com or 310-571-8197.

 

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

 

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Making Successful Changes

By Ellen & Daniel Borowka

I’m sure you’ve had times in your life when making a change becomes a big challenge. Perhaps you want to change how you deal with certain situations or a part of your lifestyle like your diet or exercise. Change is very difficult no matter what we want to change. We start out with good MC900437519[1]intentions then for one reason or another; we go back to the way we’ve always done something. So, how do we make changes that stick?

What is blocking change?

Well, the first piece of the puzzle is looking at what is blocking the change. Sometimes, we just want a problem to disappear, so we make changes as a “fix-it” solution. Fix-its are rarely good changes as they are usually based on unrealistic or unreasonable expectations of a situation or ourselves. Like those times, when we may have stopped eating altogether to lose some weight or took a vacation to fix a troubled relationship. First, it helps to take a realistic view of the situation to be changed and have an understanding of the limitations and strengths involved.

Understanding our limitations

For example, if you want to change a troubled relationship, whether family or work, one should have realistic expectations of both one’s self and those involved. It would be frustrating and unhealthy to expect to be able to change another person or control the relationship to make everyone happy. We can only change our own behavior and ourselves. It’s important to have a balanced perspective of the situation. We can’t expect to make magical changes or to ‘save’ those around us. At the same time, we should not try to underestimate our strengths and abilities. If you have trouble evaluating the situation, then be sure to get feedback from unbiased and supportive friends, counselors or clergy.

Finding our focus

Sometimes, we want to change something that is so big that we feel overwhelmed. So, we end up either trying to put band-aids on this big problem or give up altogether. It’s helpful to focus only on parts of the problem and take one piece at a time. For example, let’s say an individual doesn’t feel good about him or her self. If that person would try to change everything at once, he or she would probably give up. An alternative would be to pick one thing to change, like shyness, and focus on that first. However, whenever making changes in one’s self, please get a realistic viewpoint from others. We are often very demanding of ourselves and may try to change what doesn’t need changing at all. This violates our true self – our style and sense of being, because we deny who we are. Sometimes, the change we have to make is appreciating who we are and that is a big change!

What are my motives for change?

Once you have focused on to a specific and manageable problem, ask yourself some questions about it. Why do you want to change it? What about the situation do you want changed and why? What are you expecting to get out of this change? At this point, motives for the change need to be examined in depth to see if they are healthy reasons. For example, if you want to lose weight to please others or because you don’t like yourself, then there may be bigger issues at stake. Look at what is underneath the problem and ask yourself, “What is really bothering me about this situation?” These issues need to be looked at. Otherwise, the change would only be at the surface, and surface changes do not last very long nor solve the real problem.

Taking small steps to change

Next, consider one small step you can take to begin the change process. An old Chinese proverb says, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Change is much easier and less scary when it is done in small steps. For example, to work on shyness, one might begin by saying hi to the neighbors or the cashier at man watering2the supermarket and work up to small, light conversations with others. Then eventually build up to possibly joining a club and participating in activities or committees. The key is taking small steps in change, rather then overwhelming, sweeping changes. A good example of small changes is when I wanted to get back into doing artwork, but froze when I sat down in front of the blank canvas. So, I started out with using crayons and letter-sized paper, and just making shapes and using different colors together. I told myself that the end result doesn’t matter (lessening expectations and self-judgement), and what was important is the experience of creation (refocusing on the true need). This made the process less intimidating so I could get back to something I loved so much. From those small steps, I moved on to using different materials and techniques while feeling more confident in my artistic abilities.

Slow change creates significant progress

Once you have discovered a good small step – put it into action. Depending on severity of the problem, one may need to start out very slowly with the first step and repeat a few times for significant progress to be made. For example, if one is very shy, the first step might be repeated once or twice a week, and work up to doing it daily until one feels more comfortable to move onto the second step.

Celebrate and record your progress

After each step, celebrate your small step even if you feel the result was not as you expected. Remember that when you first started learning something new, like riding a bike, you probably didn’t do it perfectly. It took patience, practice and perseverance. Celebrate your courage, the experience of change, and your desire to take care of yourself. It is important to celebrate and appreciate yourself when you are in the change process. Record your progress and achievements. This can instill a sense of accomplishment as well as help to identify any further trouble spots in your progress.

Support is a necessity

Most of all, support is crucial during change. Seek support and feedback from understanding friends and others. Find a friend who shares your goals so you can help each other in making changes. Recognize that change is very hard and scary. As I said previously, we are very demanding on ourselves. We expect ourselves to be perfect and handle everything with ease. In actuality, we are human. It is ok to struggle and to be afraid as long as we don’t allow the fear or obstacles to block our progress. Give yourself support by challenging self-criticism, and telling yourself nurturing statements daily. Some examples of a nurturing statement are, “I appreciate myself for who I am” and “It’s ok to be imperfect.”

Fear of failure

Finally, a big obstacle for change is our natural fear of failure. There are two quotes that can give us perspective on failure. The first is, “Failure is never final! The only time you catching starcan’t afford to fail is the very last time you try. Failure does not mean we should give up; it just means we have a reason to start over.” (Don Shelby) The second, by Samuel Johnson, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” We may get frustrated or disappointed, and yet, we need to venture on in spite of these obstacles. Change comes through with patience and determination to overcome the challenge that has confronted us.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

 

Understanding Executive Coaching

By Steve Zuback

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]P[/dropcaps]icture yourself in your office getting ready for your monthly management team and you are thinking about the team and its members…

– Well… my VP of Sales needs to become a VP. He’s great at sales but can’t seem to manage or lead as the VP. I need to get him to where he needs to be to be effective.
– My CFO is terrific at the technical aspects of the position, but she is damaging the executive team with her attitude.
– What else? I have to decide what to do about the head of facilities. He’s abusive and is creating a lot of turnover. He’s acting like a jerk but we need him and we need him to change his behaviors.
– Overall, I think I have a good team. They’re all very talented, but with all that’s going on in the business, they need to become more aligned and refocused as a team, and more creative on driving the business forward.

Each of the executive team members is an asset to your organization, and yet each needs development to become even more successful in their individual and team roles. What is the best way to support their growth and development, so individually and as a team, they become more effective so the aspirations, goals and objectives of the executive team and organization can be achieved or surpassed?

Best Method to Support Growth

Some organizations attempt to develop executives through attendance in costly and time consuming classes and seminars. This approach often fails because classes and seminars do not allow for discussion of individual issues and concerns. Nor do classes create in-depth individualized learning; nor do they provide the accountability needed to bizkeysensure the full and continuing use of the newly acquired information and skills. This is important because in the “whitewater” of today’s business world, executives, without the reinforcement of a coach, quickly revert to their traditional ways of operating.

Others use internal mentoring programs. These types of programs can be effective if they are well thought out with set criteria for selecting and training of the Mentors, standards are set to define the relationship between Mentor and Mentee, time is allocated for the meetings, the purpose of the mentorship is clearly defined for the Mentor as well as the Mentee and the program is well managed. The company’s culture needs to be one that will support a mentoring program so the Mentor and Mentee can operate effectively as a unit within the context of the organization.

Often some companies hire a management consultant believing the consultant can show and give the executive what she or he needs to do. The consultant assumes the role of expert, providing answers, but usually does not develop or teach the individual executive and/or team.

Finally, more companies are utilizing executive coaching. Executive coaching can be, and I believe is, the most effective modality for ensuring the growth and development, and transformation of an individual executive, team, or business from a financial, learning, and growth perspectives.

What is Executive Coaching?

There’s been a lot of ‘buzz’ about executive coaching. Business Week, Harvard Business Review, Consulting Psychology Journal, the New Yorker and other publications have all published articles about it. CNN has interviewed leading coaches. Notwithstanding all of the printed and other media coverage, there still remains a lack of clarity and understanding about executive coaching. First, lets look at what coaching is; then how is it applied in business to executives and managers.

I believe and define coaching as…a confidential, collaborative, non-linear process of inquiry and exploration that creates self-efficacy with long-term excellent performance, and supports the continued growth and development of an individual or group/team. The Coach and Client, based on trust, respect, and the freedom of non-judgmental communication, mutually design the coaching relationship and shape the process of their meetings.

Given this definition of coaching, then executive coaching can be defined as…engaging coaching with an executive or key contributor in a position of power and responsibility within the organization who is accountable for developing and implementing complex strategic and operational decisions, which have great impact on the organization and the industry within which it operates.

Coaching executives, key contributors and teams involves a significant element of personal exploration. Executive coaching, by its nature, asks the executive to explore and become aware of how she or he thinks, learns, works, connects with others, manages frustration and expectations, and interprets the world. Given this, one may think that executive coaching is the ‘touchy-feely’ side of business; but, in reality, it is a strategic initiative for creating and developing an executive’s or team’s effectiveness and excellence. It induces the executive to look for and consider new perspectives of operation internal and external to the organization. An organization, team or individual cannot expect a different result if new ideas, perspectives, and the methods of operating are neither sought nor tested.

An element of executive coaching which sets it apart from other forms of coaching is the use of a confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment. This tool allows an executive, or team, to get much-needed unadulterated feedback from their superiors, their peers, and subordinates on how she or he operates in the organization as leader and/or manager so effective and rapid transformational change can occur.

How is Executive Coaching Different from Management Consulting?

Executive coaching is unique from business and management consulting. In much of the business and management consulting we see today, the consultant is contracted by the organization to conduct research, or produce a product or piece of work for the organization. The deliverable is developed and handed-over to the client outside, and independent of, the type of relationship between the parties. In most forms of business and management consulting, the relationship is needed between the consultant and the Client to obtain, manage, and keep the business, but not to produce the outcome. However, in executive coaching the relationship, mutually designed by the Coach and the Client, which is based on mutual trust and respect with the non-judgmental freedom of expression between the two, must exist for coaching to take place.

What is the Role of an Executive Coach?

The role of an Executive Coach is to assist the Client to grow, develop, and engage new perspectives without judging her/him or offering external dicta, ideas, systems and solutions on his/her career, or life. He/she assists the Client in moving forward without imposing the Coach’s personal pre-determined specified outcomes. The Coach consciously and actively listens, challenges the Client’s assumptions and current ways of operating in the organization and in the world, asks probing questions, provides new perspectives, ideas and tools for growth, guidance, and gives the Client clear and unambiguous feedback. The purpose of the relationship between Coach and Client interaction is to hold the Client’s attention and focus on the desired outcomes and to assist the Client to plan and to stay clear and in action.

Is Executive Coaching like Therapy or Counseling?

Executive coaching is different from therapy or counseling, though some of the techniques used in cognitive-behavioral therapy are used in executive coaching. In many forms of therapy or counseling, the relationship between therapist and Client is not one of mutual design. Rather, the therapist defines the relationship, which is to heal a diagnosable psychological state. Executive coaching, on the other hand, requires a mutually designed relationship that exists to assist the Client creates and implement actionable plans for self-development and learning as well as professional and personal fulfillment. Coaching can and is be used concurrently with therapy. They are not mutually exclusive modalities.

What is the Executive Coaching Process?

The executive coaching process ordinarily consists of four phases.

Phase 1: Pre-assessment and Contracting
In Phase 1, meetings are held with the appropriate leadership of the organization sponsoring the coaching, the executive-client, and with the executive-client’s manager. The objectives are to clarify the purpose of the coaching, discuss time frames, initial goals and outcomes, define success, review reporting relationships and schedules, establish rapport and build confidence in the process with the sponsor and executive-client, clarify reporting procedures and obtain commitments for participation in the taking of assessments, including a confidential multi-rater (360°) instrument. At this phase of the process, the executive coach and /or the sponsoring organization may decline to work together.

Phase 2: Assessment
In this phase, on an as needed basis, interviews are scheduled between the Coach and the manager, peers and others of the sponsoring organization to understand the culture of the business, as well as its norms, and success factors, in order to construct a complete portrait of the Client or group/team. The Client or group/team participates in the appropriate assessment(s) including the confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment.

Phase 3: Action Planning and Implementation
Here, goals and accountabilities are discussed and milestones are set. Action plans are developed with observable and measurable outcomes. A pre-set meeting schedule is established between the Coach and the Client.

Phase 4: Closure and Follow-up
In Phase 4, the Coach, and the Client, provide a summary of the accomplishments and an evaluation of the process. Also, the Coach identifies the remaining developmental needs, and, if appropriate and desired, identify an internal advisor for the Client or team.

Why and When is Executive Coaching Used?

Usually organizations use executive coaches when: an executive (or team) needs or wants to change methods of operation, when an executive takes on a new role, when the application of newly learned critical skills is vital, when the executive has to become more effective in her/his job and role, develop or enhance leadership, and/or modify existing man watering2problematic behaviors. Moreover, it is used because it is very cost-effective since it provides a highly focused, ‘rifled’, method for the development of an executive, or team who has the most value to add to the organization. Research shows the return to be as high as five times the investment. Coaching creates accountability, is flexible and works with the strengths of the individual so greater results occur faster.

Coaches are used: to assist executives develop new paradigms and perspectives of leadership and management to support the organization in all stages of its life-cycle; when healthy and successful inter-personal relationships are not being built or maintained; when change needs to be better managed and understood; when creativity and innovation is lacking or missing; and when key employees need to be retained and successors need to be prepared for their new role and position.

In addition, CEOs and other senior executives use it to get unadulterated feedback, so they stay at their most optimal level of performance. Executives also use coaching to eliminate what has been called the ‘paradox of leadership.’ The ‘paradox of leadership’ basically states the higher one rises in the organization the less accurate and less honest is the information they are given about their style of leadership or management and their behaviors and capabilities. Executive Coaching, with its multi-rater assessments, gives executives what they and the organization need; more clear, honest, accurate information so they can be more effective and better decisions can be made.

In closing, executive coaching is being used by more and more CEOs, executives, and teams. They see it for what it is: a clear and focused strategic initiative and investment in an executive’s, team’s, and organization’s strategic growth and development. It is a way to excellence.

Checklist for Selecting an Executive Coach

Like any other professions, not all coaches are equal. Since executive coaching is a meaningful investment in the time and money of the organization and the executive-client, I suggest the sponsoring organization and executive-client look for the following in selecting an Executive Coach. Each is as important as the other so the list is not in a priority order.

♦ Training and development as a Coach: Executive coaching are is very demanding mentally and physically and requires the acquisition of a body of knowledge, sets of skills and techniques, and experience in applying them. It is important to look for someone who has at least completed work with a reputable school of Coaching that has a star gazinghistory of excellence and hand-on practicum.
♦ Coaching principles: The Coach can articulate his/her coaching process and the underlying principles and philosophies that govern the coaching. Ascertain if the prospective coach works exclusively as an executive and business coach or as a consultant; and determine how and when these different modalities will be used.
♦ Knowledge: The Coach needs to have excellent knowledge in the use and interpretation of various personal, multi-rater, and behavioral assessments. In addition, she or he should be learned in personal growth, change and transition, adult development and learning, group/team behavior and dynamics, leadership, and organizational processes and systems. A Coach works with a Client in the context of her/his work, the organization, and other life systems within which she or he operates.
♦ Referrals: Most experienced Coaches have and work through referrals. Ask for former clients and call them.
 Wisdom: This doesn’t mean that the Coach need be a content expert. Rather, a Coach has to be learned and have wisdom. S/he needs to have excellent hands-on knowledge and experience in business and understand how it operates; leadership; management; applicable theories and models; assessments; as well as the life and experience needed to help the Client create and navigate her/his own path of learning and development in the work/life context.
♦ A Coach is a life-long learner. The coach needs to be on his own path of learning and development.

I have not mentioned certification as a coach as a critical and relevant factor in selecting an Executive Coach. This is so because, I believe, with the multiplicity of existing coach certifying bodies (at least 6 that I can think of) and schools of differing training methods and philosophy (at least 7+) one can find it difficult to readily discern which certification is most relevant and credible, and which coach training school is significant and meaningful. Therefore, I tend discount certification as a key determiner for coach selection.

In addition, many companies that sponsor executive coaching, and the company executive/client who will be working with a coach, usually and misguidedly, believe it is most important to have the client like the coach. I suggest this be rethought. Most executive coaches agree that a Client doesn’t have to first like the Coach. Rather the Client needs to first trust, respect, and feel safe enough with the Coach to freely express him/herself without being judged. When that happens, then ‘liking’ the Coach usually follows.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 

Steve is President of zubackcrc an international executive and business coaching practice that provides executive and business coaching to CEOs, Presidents, entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives and executive leadership teams on leadership, executive development, executive effectiveness and succession/career management. Steve effectively coaches CEOs and COOs, CFOs, senior executives, including sales and marketing executives, engineers, legal counsel, and teams on, growth and executive development challenges, role effectiveness, executive development, business/strategic plan development, leadership, succession, M&A, and organizational alignment. Steve’s progressive and diverse experience includes work with companies on cultural integration, corporate re-structuring, leadership and executive development, intra-preneurship, entrepreneurship, organizational development, employee and management development, executive coaching, executive selection and placement, as well as labor-management relations. For more information, you can contact Steve at 661•253•0286 or by email, steve@zubackcrc.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Raising the Hiring, Productivity and Retention Bar by using In-depth Work Style & Personality Assessment Tools

By Dana Borowka, MA

The wrong hiring decision can cost your company well over two to three times the individual’s salary according to Vistage International speaker, Barry Deutsch. This figure may be a conservative estimate because of factors like training, evaluation, termination, re-initiating the hiring process, and lost opportunity costs. There is also an emotional factor involved in a bad hire situation. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes brain on crane to headaway focus from your company’s primary goals. Essentially, a bad hire can have a negative impact on your company’s bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.

These circumstances can be minimized during the initial hiring process by using several techniques including effective recruitment programs, skilled interviewing and in-depth work style and personality assessment tests. An in-depth assessment is a highly effective tool and an efficient use of company resources at this crucial point of the decision making process.

This article focuses on in-depth assessment tests and how your company can benefit from them during the interview process, before a potential new hire turns into the wrong decision. An in-depth profile, in conjunction with a thorough interview process and good background check, can reduce the possibility of a hiring error. It also can provide your company with quantifiable information on a candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, an assessment will offer objective, expert guidance on how best to manage and place that individual within your organization.

Personality Assessment Testing – A Standard in Recruiting

In-depth work style and personality assessments are a standard recruiting practice for many branches of the government and military, as well as many Fortune 500 companies when assessing potential hires for key or critical positions. They are used to reduce employee turnover and improve department effectiveness. Correctly interpreted, professionals can help guide your organization on how to best manage, communicate and train new hires and staff members.

As with any business decision, having the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can provide insight into potential hires, as well as your current workforce, in several ways:

  1. Identify potential red flags: An in-depth work style and personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the interviewing process and can quantify an intuition or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. It can be used to identify potential red flags concerning behavioral issues, help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance and compare interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments and candidates.
  2. Learn how to optimize employees’ work performance: An in-depth assessment can provide extensive information on an individual’s ability to work with their job responsibilities, team dynamics and company culture. Additionally, the assessment can show effective strategies to gain optimal performance from that individual within their particular work environment. It can also be employed to quickly identify the most effective management style for a new employee or predict how team members are likely to interact.
  3. Ensure you have the right people in the right positions: Additionally, personality assessments can be utilized in rehires, or situations which call for employees to re-apply for their current jobs, as in the case of a corporate merger or restructuring. A personality assessment test can also ensure that your company continues to have the right people in the right positions and distribute assets & talents effectively.

Which Assessment Tool Should My Organization Use?

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style & personality profiles:woman holding questionmark

  1. Training or degrees of those who are providing the debrief/interpretation of the data.
  2. A copy of the resume and job description should be supplied to the testing company.
  3. Scale for “Impression Management”
  4. What is the history of the profile?
  5. Cultural bias
  6. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance & gender, culture & racial bias?
  7. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc.)
  8. Number of actual scales (minimum of 12+ primary scales – 16 is optimal)
  9. Does the data provide an understanding on how an individual is wired?

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.

Frequently Asked Questions

A frequent question from companies and organizations concerns the legal guidelines in administering assessments to potential employees. Industry regulations can vary and the best option is to consult with your company’s trade association or legal department. As a general rule, if your company uses an assessment, any test or set of hiring questions must be administered to all of the final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not present. Additional information can be found online at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section: http://www.eeoc.gov/docs/guidance-inquiries.html.

An additional question concerns how a new hire may feel about taking an in-depth personality and work style assessment. There is a certain amount of “test anxiety” that can be common. However, the test demonstrates that your company is serious about who they hire. If your company explains that the goal of the assessment is to reduce turnover and is only one of several factors involved in the hiring decision, the individual usually responds very well. In many cases, the candidate may accept a position from the organization they perceive to be more thoughtful during the hiring process.

Conclusion

An in-depth assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. It can provide valuable information for critical personnel decisions. Combined with an effective recruitment program and skilled interview techniques, it can benefit your company as a whole, in addition to your individual employees. Armed with accurate and man with magnify glassquantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. Ultimately, this only adds to your organization’s bottom line, allowing more effective management of your existing workforce and limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions. For more information, please call (310) 453-6556, ext. 403 or email us at dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics.  He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

InBoarding Sets Up Employees for Success

By Larry Cassidy

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]I[/dropcaps]f onboarding is such a great business idea – and it is – why should it be reserved for only new employees? Maybe the time has come to give in-boarding a try.

Onboarding = Success

climbing ladderOnboarding is more than just a solution for employees with the new job jitters. Getting new employees ready to be productive is one of the toughest jobs managers face. Failure to set new employees up to succeed can lead to a slow ramp up to productivity, unhappy new hires, and, ultimately, failure to meet your critical business goals. Rather than recruiting, hiring and throwing employees in the deep end of the pool (“Sink or swim!”), there are much better onboarding practices to increase the worker’s odds of success.

To many a business school professor, onboarding is known as organizational socialization mechanisms. In layman’s terms, this means the ways new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and corporate culture to become effective team members. Think beyond just a simple new employee orientation. The process might include formal lectures, videos, training booklets, computer-based simulations, and even such basic steps as having someone welcome the newcomer and take them to lunch the first day.

This is a far cry from what we called onboarding when I was a captain in the Marine Corps: boot camp. Obviously stress reduction was not on our priority list. While there are no drill instructors at your company yelling at new recruits to drop and give me twenty (at least I hope not), the purpose is the same. You want to prepare newcomers for success in the organization.

More than 80 percent of organizations reported that they have either formal (i.e., written, documented, standard) or informal onboarding programs and/or practices, according to a study by the Society for Human Resources Managers (SHRM).  The vast majority of organizations indicated that providing communication, training and resources is extremely important for the successful adjustment of new hires.

So, one in five business leaders are still holdouts, reasoning that traditional human resources orientation sessions are good enough. They fail to see the cost/benefit payoff of investing so much time and energy in the new hires. This is miscalculated reasoning.

Public and private research has proven that onboarding leads to such positives as higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater commitment to the organization, and stress reduction. Advocates say onboarding does more than shorten the learning curve of new hires. The ultimate payoff is reduced turnover and getting productive workers to increase their tenure at the company.

But Why Just the Newbies?

If you agree with the mounting evidence that onboarding is the way to go, here is an important question: Why wouldn’t you do the same to accelerate the progress of the employees you already have? There is no reason to think that it is too late for the rest of the roster who arrived after onboarding began or have already gone through onboarding.

Consider it inboarding, an extension of the idea of onboarding. The purpose of inboarding is to set existing, rather than new, employees up for greater success. You want the same payoffs: higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and greater commitment to the goals of the organization.

Employees are not set-it-and-forget-it machines. The need for input is ongoing. Many inboarding communications tools and channels can be used to continually get the information across. If onboarding is like an inoculation, then inboarding is like booster shots.

When I was president of a 150-person consumer optical company, I discovered there are two groups of employees that are ideal candidates for what I now call inboarding: all employees and specially selected employees.

All Employees

paint rainbow

First, let’s consider all employees. That’s right, all employees. Do you have employees you don’t care if they are successful or not? If yes, I recommend you get rid of the position or get rid of the person in the position (maybe that should be called offboarding, but that is a whole other article). In today’s world of lean companies and global competitiveness, every employee counts.

I am a believer that you help employees be more successful at accomplishing corporate goals if they know what’s going on, where the company is going, why it is going there, what is expected of them, how they can contribute and what the payoff is for them.  A leader wants to know the answers to those questions, and so does the entire team.

Treat your employee base like adults who are as interested in the future and success of the company as you are. Here are the tactics that can make inboarding work. Try town hall meetings, roundtable discussions, and even monthly newsletters (just the facts, not the fluff).

Please understand… I am not talking rah-rah, go-team-go cheerleading sessions. This is honest sharing of information. The important news to always stress is where are we going, why it is important, what the opportunities are, what we need from you the employee, and what is in it for you. Bottom line: We get more business, everyone is more secure.

There is an old adage: “If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter what road you take.” In my experience of coaching more than 300 companies, the information about company success metrics does not easily filter down from the management team and supervisors to the rank and file. People are often in the dark on how they relate to success. Everyone who goes to work wants to go home feeling they accomplished something and that it was important.

Here is one technique I recommend. Set up idea exchange sessions comprised of representatives from various functional areas of the organization. Have them share why they think another area is important. They might make comments like: “Marketing is important because if we don’t have a steady stream of customers we are out of business.” “Operations is important because if we don’t deliver on time that hurts our cash flow and reputation.” “Accounts receivable is important because if they don’t do their job we don’t get paid by customers.”  Having that feedback from other people in the organization can really open their eyes to the fact that what they do really matters. They come to work with their heads held a little higher and their focus more intent.

Specially Selected Employees

The other prime candidate for onboarding is specially selected employees who possess high potential for growth. These are the people you know would like to be major players for you as you go down the road. Inboarding can focus on a number of actions to get them ready to become better, rather than pigeonholing them in the job they already have.

Many managers are afraid to groom a high performing employee for promotion, because they hate to lose someone good. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A manager’s job is to grow their people and find the right new person to replace them.

finish lineWith a small to medium company there can be a challenge to find slots to move a high performer up a ladder. Unlike the days when I was an executive at General Mills, in a small organization there are not as many opportunities for promotion for an up-and-comer.

The solution is for Project work is another inboarding technique. You might say to one of these special employees, “You have a chance to be a manager, but right now we think you are short on finance. So I am going to give you a project that lets you get your nose into the numbers.”get about the vertical ladder and, as proposed by Vistage speaker and consultant, Amy K Hutchins, consider a horizontal ladder. This means moving employees laterally into new and different experiences. Moving sideways can keep the employee fresh (not too different from how the military cross trains its personnel).

Maybe the solution is as simple as cross training. The restaurant chain, PF Changs, took two important actions during the recession.  First, they got rid of everything on the expense side that did not enhance the customer’s dining experience. Second, they did a great deal of cross training, which allowed them to reduce head count because kitchen staff could fill in for wait staff and vice versa. More important, morale went up because the employees better understood what it took for the entire restaurant to be successful.

Final Thoughts on Inboarding

Inboarding should be done on a regular, continual basis. If you do it episodically, then the employees tend to look at it as something the leaders do when something is wrong or when you get a big order. Communicating on a monthly or quarterly basis is something to strive for, but not less than every six months.

Don’t neglect the social side. Functions like the company picnic and the holiday party are important. So is the celebration for the big win. In my experience, companies who celebrate victories do better over time.

up the hillBreaking bread is also a proven strategy. Regularly take a cross section of employees out for a lunch discussion. If you show genuine interest in your employees, they will know that you care. Then they are more likely to open up to you on what is really going on. Tagalongs are another strategy. Have a younger employee shadow you for some client meetings, lunches and project work.

Overall, the inboarding payoff can be enormous. Never forget, it is the leader’s job to create employee alignment with personal goals, management objectives, and company goals. Inboarding will give you better players and deeper bench strength. Technology is great, but technology doesn’t give you the edge. Business is still about people.

Action Item List

Now it’s time to try out the ideas shared in this article. To receive the specific action items list, please click here and sign up for our Keeping on Track Newsletter:

For more information on how to get an inboarding or onboarding program started, please contact Dana at (310) 453-6556, ext. 403 or dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Larry Cassidy is a Senior LCS Consultant and a Chair with Vistage International for the past 25 years. He currently works with some 50 executives every month and has facilitated over 1,200 executive group meetings, and participated in 11,000 face-to-face discussions with chief executives about all aspects of their businesses. He prepared for this journey at Miami University (Ohio) and Northwestern (MBA); as a Marine Corps officer; with public companies (General Mills, Quaker Oats and PepsiCo), private, family and foreign-owned firms; and, in the 1980s as General Manager and CEO of local companies. He does executive coaching and also serves on advisory boards. You can reach Larry at Larry@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.

To order our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.