How to Pick a Strategic Planner and Use In-Depth Work Style Assessments to Improve Planning Performance

By Dana Borowka

Scott Adams, the creator of the cartoon Dilbert, has lampooned strategic planning for years.

“I’m putting you on the strategic planning team,” announces Dilbert’s boss. “It’s like work, but without the satisfaction of accomplishing anything.”

There is a grain of truth in Dilbert, because strategic planning can fall short without the right facilitator and approach.

“Planning is simply not that hard; but finding a great consultant who can help you get a great plan written, and implemented, is critical,” says Steven Phillips.

Phillips has built an enviable reputation for his strategic planning. He is a sought-after speaker for conferences and organizations worldwide. He has solid advice on how to choose the right strategic planner.

“Too many times consultants will lock themselves up, do amazing analysis, offer up a plan, and then it sits on a shelf and never gets implemented,” says Phillips. “The secret to getting the plan implemented is to take a high involvement approach with the senior team while creating the plan. Consequently, hiring a consultant who will be seen by your senior team as credible and likeable is very, very important.”

Some consultants say it is critical the strategic planner you hire should know the industry.

“Choose a strategic planning resource that knows your industry and is willing to understand how your existing capabilities are or are not capable of achieving the strategy,” says Paul David Walker, a strategic planner with specialized expertise in many industries.

“If they produce the ideal strategy vs. one that works for your existing talent, then the plan will just gather dust,” adds Walker.

Beyond the Standard Screening Criteria

The standard screening criteria when selecting a strategic planning consultant is experience, results, references, and chemistry/fit.

Barri Carian, a former senior executive for two Fortune 500 companies who has been a partner or in the embryonic stages of three start-up companies, is a strategic planning consultant who believes in today’s fast paced and disruptive world there are two additional areas companies should pay attention to in their selection.

“The first is can the strategic planning consultant take us through a deep dive into the trends that will impact our future success?” she asks. “This includes societal (demographic and psychographic), industry and technology trends. Strategic plans that do not take these trends into consideration will not serve the company well.”

For examples of those who didn’t take trends into account think Blockbuster, the music industry, the taxi companies, and Kodak.

“Second, the plan must be executable.,” adds Carian. “So often, strategic plans sit on a shelf never to be referenced again. Or they are so lofty, it’s overwhelming and companies don’t know where to start. Can the strategic planning consultant help you operationalize the plan? That means prioritizing initiatives, assigning owners or champions, breaking large strategic initiatives into smaller bites and developing systems to track progress and removing obstacles.”

The challenge, says strategic planning consultant Marc Emmer, is that a lot of consultants are generalists. Many are very good facilitators, and they may or may not be true strategists.

“If you really want a formal, strategic plan based on research, it may be worth your while to hire a strategic planning firm, that has the resources to run a true strategy process,” says Emmer. “The first thing you should ask potential consultants is how many strategic plans have they written? How companies have they facilitated strategic planning meetings for? If they have done ten or twenty you might wonder if they have enough experience to help you.”

If they have many practice areas such as leadership or process improvement, you should consider if they are focused enough on strategy to be any good at it, advises Emmer.

“Finally, ask to see the tools and processes that they will use to ensure your team has an actionable plan that can drive competitive advantage,” adds Emmer, who recently published his second book, Momentum: How Companies Decide What To Do Next.

“People who understand strategic planning and do it well view it as central to their evolution of a company and the source of competitive advantage,” adds Emmer.

Insight Leads to Better Strategic Planning Team Performance

After a strategic planning consultant is selected, in-depth work style and personality testing can be a valuable resource for the strategic planning process. The true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective.

Here are five ways to use in-depth work style and personality testing for strategic planning:

1. Get the real picture when choosing strategic planning team members. Naturally all candidates for your strategic planning team want to put their best foot forward. However, through an in-depth work style and personality test, you can uncover a great deal about their ability to work well with other personalities, their problem-solving abilities, their thought processes and their ability to tolerate stress. This testing gives you objective information that can help you make an informed decision about whether these candidates would be good fit for the strategic planning team.

2. Help team members be all that they can be. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Find out the real truth with an objective measure. Once you pinpoint the good and the bad, then you place them in the right positions and coach them on where to improve.

3. Treat team members the way they want to be treated. In today’s fast-paced world of business there is little time to get to know many of your coworkers. Using in-depth work style personality assessments as the basis for team building exercises can quickly get everyone to have a healthier respect for other ways of seeing the world.

4. Make strategic planning leaders better team leaders. When team leaders understand what makes their people tick, then they can be better leaders. Knowing the work style and personality traits can help with stressful planning sessions.

5. Set up strategic planning teams for success. Sometimes we hire the right employee and then give that person the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles and where a person would be happiest goes a long way to improving retention and productivity.

A proper test should reach beyond simple profiles and decipher an employee’s underlying needs. This is key for team building, conflict resolution, and succession planning. Some tests only use five or eight traits to make an assessment; this is not enough. We recommend a test that utilizes the full sixteen traits to get a complete picture of the person.

A final thought: once you have used assessments to pick the right team, it might be a shame to use them only once a year.

“My view of so-called strategic planning is that today it is less an event and more an ongoing conversation,” says Larry Cassidy, a group chair with Vistage International for 30 years. “The most effective organizations are evolving, and for me that moves viable strategic thinking away from being an annual event and toward an ongoing conversation.”

Robert Scherer, president of TAG, an outsourced accounting and software solutions firm, believes that in order to maximize the likelihood of executing a strategic plan that attention to detail and follow-up are critical.

“Over the years, TAG has worked with many companies in various stages of their strategic plan, with many attempts to accomplish too much in one year,” Scherer said. “With planning it’s better to break down goals into shorter sprints, as it puts more urgency and focus on your goals, which defaults to a more agile approach.”

Trends to Take Into Account for Strategic Planning

Before his consulting career, Marc Emmer spent over 20 years in the food business, in operations, marketing and business development. Emmer, who writes regularly for Inc. magazine, offers these trends to take into account in your strategic planning:

• Get great tax planning advice now.
• Have a nimble strategic plan, that can change on a moment’s notice. Review it quarterly to ensure you are in a position to seize the opportunities ahead.
• Invest in technology. Ask of your management team, how is technology a strategic advantage? If your team doesn’t have the chops to answer the question, find the people who do. Weave technology into your strategic plan.
• Hire people before you need them. If the economy continues to heat up, and unemployment levels off at 4 percent or so, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find talent.
• Be a best-in-class employer and push the envelope on providing a flexible work environment (including virtual office space).
• Utilize collaboration tools that allow you to provide your team the ability to be effective, in any location at any time.
• Execute flawlessly. Given the rate of change, customers expect on-time delivery, great quality and seamless communication. Utilize agile principles to ensure your team can pivot quickly to meet evolving customer demands.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

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”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team 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.

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.

Effective Leadership and Progressive Discipline

By Dan Hamon

Workshop is available for this topic: This program can be given live or remote in either Spanish or English.

To listen to and see slides on an Open Line web conference on this topic with Dan Hamon as the guest speaker, please go here:
Audio: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.mp3
Slides: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.pdf

Peter Drucker, the noted management professor and author famously said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

One of the right things a leader must do is to practice progressive discipline. As someone who leads seminars for both English and Spanish speaking managers and employees on the importance of effective leadership and progressive discipline, I would like to set the record straight on this important leadership practice.

Yes, there are important legal reasons.

“The first question in any legal challenge is, ‘Did the manager manage properly?’” says Mike Deblieux, author of seven people management books. “Effective documentation shows the manager managed performance by setting clear expectations, monitoring performance, providing feedback, and redirecting performance by creating an opportunity for the employee to succeed.”

As the saying goes about documentation, the proof is there in black and white.

What is not always black and white is how progressive discipline is effective leadership. In other words, progressive discipline produces results.

Now I am no human relations theorist. I have played key leadership roles in product development, marketing, sales, and worldwide operations, and P&L. When I was 19 I assumed responsibility for my family’s manufacturing and retail business. So, this is real world effective leadership I want us to consider, not some academic view.

But to be fair, let’s start with the academic textbook definition of progressive discipline: An employee disciplinary system that provides a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct problems. Disciplinary measures range from mild to severe, from a slap on the wrist up to and including termination, depending on the nature and frequency of the problem.

There is a management adage that the best defense is a good offense: Using progressive discipline proactively is the best strategy to minimize the threat of litigation from wrongful termination cases. Some have nicknamed it the “three strikes and you are out” discipline system. While the baseball metaphor is handy to remember, there is no magic in three offenses equals termination. And termination is not really the goal; the goal is better performance.

Many leaders worry that writing up employees will hurt performance and cause workers to form a dislike of leadership. They reason that employees who dislike management will be less engaged.

This is miscalculated thinking about the attributes of leadership, morale, and being liked by employees.

Another favorite Drucker quote of mine is: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked: leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Most leaders would agree that management is about achieving results through people. A manager must help his or her people succeed at the work they do, and regardless of what language they speak. A key to helping people succeed is communication, which is probably the most important thing a manager does. Managers need to identify and correct performance problems through proper communications (with a sensitivity to the language his or her workforce is most comfortable with).

As commonly believed, it is true with progressive discipline leaders use communications to protect themselves and their organization against legal action by getting incidents on paper. But there is more. These managers take steps to ensure solid, consistent documentation procedures throughout the entire organization. Most important, you will also identify and address potential performance problems with progressive discipline before they even happen. Preventing an illness is more important than curing an illness.

Prevention through coaching performance improvement begins with observing and communicating employee behavior. This means communicating in writing that follows Deblieux’s FOSA framework: facts, objectives, solutions, and actions. Managers, don’t just tell what you want when facts will sell what you want.

Managers must be objective and not subjective in writing down what is going on. Subjective means your opinion, and objective means what can be seen. Behavior that can be seen should be factually described by recording the what, when, where, who and how (also part of the FOSA framework):

•  What happened
•  When it happened
•  Where it happened
•  Who was involved
•  How it happened

Describe direct observations of behavior in your written evaluations. Deblieux’s work tells us to use phrases like “I saw,” “I heard,” “I touched,” “I smelled,” and “I tasted.” Remember you are describing objective behaviors, not your subjective feelings about the employees’ attitude or demeanor. When translated into another language, these objective statements are clear to understand.

So, to be understood a manager should not write something vague like “You were late today.” Instead, a better entry would be: “I saw you arrive at your workstation and clock-in at 7:42 a.m., which is 12 minutes past starting time.”

As another example, a manager should not write something like, “Don’t forget to wear your hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes next time.”

Instead, a better entry for this would read: “The company safety rules require you to wear a hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes at all times on the company yard. I expect you to put your hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes on before you enter the company yard.”

These entries document behaviors that are expected. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior. Therefore, training comes first, and counseling comes second. There is even room for the oral warning, and no need to be a stringent supervisor that starts with a written warning. Think training first, not punishment, to correct disobedience.

One way to improve manager/employee communications is through in-depth work style and personality assessment testing. Managers should learn how their people and job candidates are wired in order to hire the best and understand how to proactively manage individuals.

This type of testing can identify potential red flags for human behavioral issues during the hiring process. Another benefit is it helps managers gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of staff and candidates. Perhaps most important, it can reduce the learning curve for understanding how to manage individuals for greater work performance.

The key concept to remember there is workers are individuals, and there is no “one size fits all” communication strategy for obtaining optimum performance. I believe nobody comes to work to make mistakes. Let’s think of mistakes as a chance to teach, to help the employee learn from his or her error.

Better communications will help the employees be more open to the learning. Managers can benefit from training in interpersonal coaching, especially through the use of the work style and personality assessments. As managers, sometimes we need to take a good long look in the mirror about our coaching skills.

However, when there is disobedience or on-going failure to achieve performance goals, then there needs to be an escalation. This includes written warnings. This can be followed by a last step option. This is a specific warning of termination. The final step is termination. While a termination may be a layoff, here we are really talking about firing someone for willful violation of rules or the inability to perform.

For an employee to willfully violate rules, they have to know what the rules are. Effective leaders need to identify the rules, explain the application of the rules, be aware of the exceptions and document the coaching process through progressive discipline.

To listen to and see slides on an Open Line web conference on this topic with Dan Hamon as the guest speaker, please go here:
Audio: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.mp3
Slides: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.pdf

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Dan Hamon is a Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services. Dan has played key leadership roles in product development, marketing, sales, worldwide operations, and P&L. He is particularly gifted at drawing together and leading the right internal and external teams for solving complex problems and achieving business results. Dan’s industry expertise includes software, semiconductors, micro-machines, high performance computing, cyber-security, and artificial intelligence. Dan enjoys giving presentations on management, technology, productivity and other interesting topics to managers and senior executives.

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.

Screening Job Candidates: The Top Ten Hiring Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

By Barry Deutsch, MA & Brad Remillard – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

When hiring, make sure the person you bring into a critical job is, in fact, the person he or she appears to be. Too often the hiring process is a case of mutually crossed fingers— both parties hope the match is a good one, and hope the gamble they’re taking will pay off. And then, regrettably, when Monday morning rolls around and the work begins, it all unravels.

Whose fault is it when the person who seemed like a fired-up go-getter turns out to be indifferent to goals she didn’t set herself? Whose fault is it when the person hired to overhaul the organizational IT system turns out to be short-tempered, impractical, and a lousy communicator who alienates every functional department head? Whose fault is it when the new sales manager seems to have no impact whatsoever on penetrating two new markets — a mission-critical goal that he seemed fully capable of doing in interviews? Whose fault is it when the person who shows up for the job isn’t the person you thought you hired?

We believe the blame lies squarely with the hiring process itself, and we have compiled evidence to prove it. Our research focusing on more than 20,000 hiring executives during the past 15 years has identified the most common mistakes made in hiring. Through the course of our analysis, we’ve determined the actual failure rate for newly hired managers and executives reaches a staggering 56 percent in many mid-sized and large organizations. We wanted to understand why. Prior to writing our book, You’re Not the Person I Hired!, we analyzed the hiring practices of 225 executive hires in 134 target companies.

What we discovered was that almost every organization makes the same mistakes, over and over again. Most often, several mistakes occurred in each case. In nearly every situation, when new executives and managers failed to meet expectations, a major causal factor was that expectations had not been clearly defined in the first place.

Everything else fell out from there. Here are their ten most frequent mistakes, in reverse rank order:

10. Desperation Hiring: In 55 percent of searches, the hiring organization failed to budget enough time for the search, resulting in shallow sourcing and superficial interviews that failed to identify potential pitfalls.
9. Ignoring Top Candidate’s Needs: 55 percent of searches were handled with a primary focus on the organization’s needs and failed to build a compelling case for why top candidates should make the move.
8. Failure To Probe For Core Success Factors: The five best predictors of long-term success are self-motivation, leadership, comparable past performance, job-specific problem solving, and adaptability. A majority of searches failed to probe for these (56 percent).
7. Fishing in Shallow Waters: The search attracted only “Aggressive” candidates without seeking “Selective” and “Sleeper” candidates (62 percent).
6. Performance Bias: Interviews and offers were rewarded to the “best actor,” not the best candidate (63 percent).
5. Historical Bias: The hiring company used only past performance to predict future results (68 percent).
4. Snap Judgment: Hiring teams relied too heavily on first impressions to make final hiring decisions (72 percent).
3. Inappropriate “Prerequisites” Used Too Early In Selection Process: Hiring teams placed too much emphasis on specific education, technical skills, and industry experience to screen out qualified candidates (76 percent).
2. Superficial interviewing: Candidates’ backgrounds and claims were not deeply probed or verified (92 percent).
1. Inadequate job descriptions: These focused solely on experience and skills, not company expectations. A staggering 93 percent of searches that resulted in new executive failure made this mistake at the outset.

The Causes Of Hiring Mistakes

In their experience, the authors found that hiring mistakes are not caused by willful ignorance or negligence. Most often, new executive failure has several interrelated causes:

1. Inadequate preparation. Rarely had the hiring companies outlined a detailed, measurable definition of “success” that could be used to source, evaluate, and select candidates. Instead, they relied on outdated or insufficient job specs, focused around desired attributes, educational attainment, and so on.

2. Lack of information. After their work with the surveyed companies, nearly all dramatically improved hiring practices and (most important) the performance of new hires. They conclude, therefore, that at least one cause of their earlier hiring failures was not endemic organizational dysfunction, but a lack of information and training about how to hire more effectively at the executive level.

3. “Human nature.” Interpersonal situations like interviews, conducted in a vacuum, are often guided primarily by gut feelings. Hiring team members who have not been trained to minimize these distractions are easily influenced by preconscious perceptions and nonverbal cues. When provided with a tool set designed to counterbalance these biases, interview team performance is far more likely to overcome distractions and focus on more critical success-based matters.

With the most common hiring mistakes and their causes in mind, we have developed and refined the Success Factor Methodology™ (for a free copy go to the website,
www.impacthiringsolutions.com). This structured approach to executive hiring helps our client companies prevent repeating predictable, avoidable hiring pitfalls that plague many new employee hires. We believe every organization — large or small, for-profit or nonprofit, public or private — is capable of using this methodology to significantly improve its hiring success at all levels of the organization.

There is only one way we’ve discovered to make sure the next employee you hire is successful: tightly define what success will look like before the search begins, and focus like a laser beam on verifying that each candidate you see has the demonstrated potential to create that success. The Success Factor Methodology requires a rethinking of almost every part of your hiring process. The progress you make will correlate directly with the amount of dedication, focus, leadership, and effort you expend. It works when you work — and there are no shortcuts.

Stay Focused When The Finish Line Is In Sight

The interview is over. The candidate has left the building. Now comes the hard part; making sense of what you’ve just heard. Assessment, verification, evaluation, and in-depth analysis of the candidate’s stories and claims are on the docket for the interview team. Do you have a systematic process to ensure the candidates have been truthful? How do you ensure you are continuing with the right candidate as you move through various interviews?

If you’re like most hiring executives, when you interview a candidate, you scribbled a few notes in the resume margin. You formed a general impression based on a mélange of nonverbal cues and behaviors. You’ve already decided that you “like” or “don’t like” the candidate. But you don’t have a tool to help you compare apples to apples, and candidates to your Success Factor Snapshot.

The Water Cooler Is No Place To Debrief

We have frequently seen interviewers emerge from a round of interviews and then commiserate near the proverbial water cooler.watercooler talk

• “So, what did you think of Candidate A?”
• “Well, he seemed enthusiastic.”
• “She had a lot of energy.”
• “He was polite.”
• “Seemed okay. I think he could probably do the job.”

These abstract impressions are not grounded in what’s needed to succeed on the job. A case in point: One of the best people a client of ours ever hired nearly wasn’t invited back for a second interview. She was a powerhouse — highly accomplished, with more than enough demonstrable success behind her. In terms of her ability to do the job, she stood head and shoulders above all other candidates.

There was, however, a “problem.” The candidate was not a fashion plate. The company’s employees tended to be fashionable, with name-brand labels oozing out of every office suite. The candidate arrived at the first interview in a tasteful but conservative suit, her hair pulled back in a plain style, wearing minimal makeup. Some members of the interview panel (they never asked who, exactly) apparently fixated on her “lack of grooming.”

When we spoke to the hiring team after the first interview and they expressed reluctance to continue interviewing the candidate, we were puzzled. It took considerable probing to uncover the fact that the interviewers who had expressed reservations were subconsciously prejudiced based on the candidate’s “stodgy, plain” clothing and makeup.

However, the position was not one that required interfacing with clients who would expect flash and style. She would be managing sophisticated financial analysis, planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

Here was a candidate with phenomenal qualifications who had nailed the answer to every question they gave her…but she wasn’t “glam” enough?

We let the hiring committee know what a mistake they were making. The important question, we reminded them, was not whether this candidate subscribed to Vogue and Elle, shopped at Saks, or invested a fifth of her income in facials, French manicures, MAC makeup, or triple foil highlights. The important question — the only question — was whether she could do what the company needed done.

The hiring team rethought their position. The candidate was invited back, eventually offered the job, promoted twice, and last we knew, was still successfully making things happen nearly a decade later, Armani suit or no.

This episode crystallizes a universal truth about candidate evaluation: Superficial, irrelevant issues often get more of an interviewer’s attention than real substance.

“Criteria” To Toss Out

When you interview, what’s on your mental checklist? Some of the most time honored “criteria” have absolutely nothing to do with whether a candidate can do the job.

• Strong presentation
• Assertive or Aggressive
• Manicured
• Polished shoes in the right color (brown with navy, not black)
• “Enthusiasm”
• High Energy
• Good eye contact
• Strong handshake
• Well-spoken
• Instant, unhesitant recall of events from many years ago (honestly, if somebody asked you about something that happened in 1993, wouldn’t you pause and look up to the right as you tried to remember all the details?)
• Smooth speech without “ums” or stutters or backtracking
• Personable

Many hiring mistakes occur because the hiring team draws first impressions from factors like these, or because the candidate either wowed them or bored them during interviews.

The team can lose sight of the real goal: Measuring the candidate’s ability to deliver the results defined in the success factor worksheet.

Remember, you’re not hiring an actor; you’re hiring an Operations Director, or a VP of Finance, or a Plant Manager. In what way, exactly, does a candidate’s handshake correlate with their ability to succeed in those jobs? In some jobs, of course, presentation skills and a solid professional appearance are important. But focusing on “hot-button” factors like those in the list above does not help to select the right candidate.

The Eight-Dimension Success Matrix™

To eliminate interviewers’ ingrained tendency to focus on superficial criteria and miss substantive evidence, we developed a structured tool to help each interviewer evaluate each candidate—objectively, fairly, and comprehensively.

The Eight-Dimension Success Matrix is the tool we have our clients use to rate “fit” based on the examples, illustrations, specifics, results, accomplishments, and patterns of behavior that emerge in candidate interviews.

It is quick to use, easy to understand, and focused on the job itself. Perhaps most importantly, it calibrates interviewer ratings, keeping everyone on the same page. Built around the five key predictors of success, the Eight-Dimension Success Matrix forces interviewers to assess answers to questions in a uniform way.

Accountability to the group is vital. When interviewers know they will have to justify the ratings assigned to each candidate to the entire group of interviewers—especially if they’ve designated Candidate A’s Team Leadership ability 1 while everybody else assigned her a 2—the whole process is taken more seriously.

Because each member of the interviewing team fills out an Eight-Dimension Success Matrix form after each interview, by the end of a long interview cycle, a candidate’s file may contain twenty or more forms. The full file allows the person with final hiring power to evaluate full-spectrum of evaluation on all Success Factors. Skimming the right column helps the hiring executive to rapidly compare the same candidate interview-to-interview, and also to evaluate candidates’ qualifications against each other, on equal footing. For more information on the Eight-Dimension Success Matrix form, go to the website, www.impacthiringsolutions.com.

When References Go Bad

If a candidate makes it to the second round of interviews, it’s getting serious. You’ve settled on one, or possibly two, candidates. You believe with all your heart, soul, and mind that one is the right person for the job. He or she seems to be the cherry on the sundae, and you’re looking forward to making the job offer to the number one candidate.

You phone HR and tell them to make two quick reference calls based on names and numbers the candidate has given you. Once that’s done, you figure, it’s a wrap. Stop right there.
Even though most reference calls tend to be five-minute, rubber stamp, “Is-he-a-nice-guy/would-you-rehire-her/did-she-do-well” conversations, yours will not be. Your calls won’t even technically be “reference calls.” They will be 20 to 30 minutes long. They will go into great detail. They will be deep third-party verifications of what the candidate has told you in the interviews. You will push and probe for nearly as much detail with each reference as you did with the candidate.busy-880800_1280

You must do so, not because you do not trust this person (it’s obvious that you do, or you wouldn’t be on the cusp of offering him a job), but because verification is a mandatory step in a proven hiring process. Ordinary reference calls (and even background checks—more on that in a moment) don’t get to the heart of potential problems.

Most people who receive reference calls expect to be on the line for fewer than ten minutes.  They expect to be able to say simple things like, “Cathy is a great worker! You can’t go wrong hiring her. I’d rehire her in an instant.”

But you, as the hiring company, are about to invest literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new hire. To do so without fully verifying what the candidate has told you would be irresponsible. Up until now, you’ve had only the candidate’s word to go on. References, though, are a treasure chest waiting to be opened and explored.

Finding The Right Reference

First off: No family, friends, or personal references. While many applicants still include these in their list, personally invested people are unlikely to yield much useful information. When a reference’s primary relationship with a candidate is personal, there is an automatic conflict of interest. Their loyalty is to the candidate, not you, and most importantly, they are unlikely to be able to speak intelligently about the candidate’s work accomplishments.

Once you’ve decided you want to hire a particular candidate, ask them for three to five professional references. Ideally, these should be former bosses, peers, or individuals they have supervised. They suggest to their search clients that reference checks should be conducted on a 360-degree basis, including all the individuals who might touch this person, both inside and outside the company. Ask for the numbers of key customers, vendors, and suppliers. If the candidate is still employed at a company where they have been for a long time (five years or more), and they would prefer you do not contact their boss until an offer is made, work around it as best you can. Perhaps a former mentor from another department has left the company and would be able to speak about them. Maybe the person who hired them originally and saw them through their meteoric first few years is now retired and living in Key West—call her.

A Top 5% candidate, if he or she is interested in the job, will work with you on this, and may even agree to let you contact a current employer under certain circumstances. As a last resort, sometimes candidates will grant you permission to talk with their boss once an offer is formally presented. You can always make the offer contingent upon the successful outcome of reference checks. Because coworkers and colleagues have usually spent more time with the candidate than the boss, they are outstanding sources of verification. Usually “lateral” references can offer deeper insights into work style, team leadership ability, personality, and cultural issues. Pay particular attention to these areas when speaking to former coworkers, probing for any indications that the person may pose interpersonal problems or “rub people the wrong way.”

Going Deeper: Secondary References

Don’t stop at the first layer of verification. When you speak to first-tier references (those whose names the candidate gave you), ask whom else the candidate worked with, reported to, supervised, or led as part of a team. These are secondary references, and they are additional potential sources of objective verification. Then, go back to the candidate and ask them whether they would mind if you contacted these secondary references. A highly qualified candidate will usually agree immediately.

If you sense hesitation, it may be a red flag. If the candidate objects to contacting a secondary reference, ask why. Sometimes they will offer a good reason (“I was charged with supervising the team’s efforts. His department was always late with their deliverables and I had to ride him hard for a year to make sure he followed up on his commitments. I don’t think Judy, my primary reference, was aware of the ongoing friction between their departments, but Bob in accounting was on the same team. Would you like me to put you in touch with him?”).

Other times, they will be vague and evasive (“Um, well, they didn’t work together much and she didn’t have anything to do with my projects. I don’t think she’d really be able to tell you much.”) Listen carefully to the answers you receive from the candidate and make an informed judgment call before proceeding with a secondary reference verification interview.

As a rule of thumb, if you get strong verification not only from a candidate’s “first tier” of references, but also from secondary references, you can almost bet the farm you’ve found the candidate you’re looking for. (Almost. See “Background Checks” before you leap, though.) Finally, it is important not to “wear out” references. Third-party verification calls should be one of the last items on the hiring agenda, not the first. Not even the middle.

The Eight-Point Success Validation form is lengthy and intense and will take at least thirty minutes to complete; this is a significant investment of time, and you should let people know up front that the call will take this long.

A good third of the information you need about candidates is obtained in verification phone calls. It’s best to set expectations early in a reference phone call. Make it clear that you are not asking for a recommendation. Rather, you are verifying information that you’ve been given, and you would appreciate as much detail as the reference feels comfortable giving.

The Vital Role of Testing And Assessment

We strongly believe testing is a valuable adjunct to the Success Factor Methodology, because when administered correctly, tests can uncover useful information about personality traits, potential for high achievement, and other factors that may not be immediately evident in an interview situation. However, there are several cautions about assessment instruments. We highly recommend that our clients use an outside, third-party assessment professional who is specifically trained to select appropriate tests, as well as administer and interpret the results. Beyond using appropriate personnel, they advise the following:

1. The instrument must be appropriate to the job. Each selected test should measure traits, characteristics, and skills that are directly and obviously relevant to the job. Appropriate scales may be honesty and integrity — important qualities for the person who will be in charge of the company coffers. On the other hand, there is no apparent reason to administer an instrument like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which is designed to test for mental and emotional disorders.

2. The instrument must be valid and reliable. The Buros Institute, an organization founded in 1935 to catalog and evaluate psychological tests, publishes two comprehensive directories that can help you to select instruments that are known to be reliable and valid. The Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests In Print are available at most libraries and contain descriptions and reviews of psychological instruments.  Be sure to ask consulting industrial psychologists whether the assessments they use are listed in these directories. If you are interested in how they were developed and validated, you can consult these reference works. At last count, the volumes had collected development, price, administration, and interpretation data on more than 11,000 instruments.

3. Be wary of free online tests. Unless they come from a highly regarded institute and/or are listed in one of the books mentioned above, they may not be valid and reliable instruments.

4. The instrument must be administered and interpreted professionally. We cannot emphasize enough that tests, inventories, personality profiles, and the like are difficult to interpret for a nonprofessional. Human Resources professionals are generally not qualified to administer psychological or behavioral tests. If you do choose to use some form of assessment to help you make a hiring decision, it is safer and more effective to delegate responsibility to a third party, who will likely ask candidates to sign waivers before taking the tests. These professionals will also ensure that untrained people on the hiring team do not focus on one or two potentially “negative” findings in a 20-page report—something they have seen frequently.

Getting the Right Information

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:

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.

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 quantifiable 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.

A Comprehensive Background Check

Finally, we reach the granddaddy of all pre-hiring due diligence: The Background Check. As with psychological and personality testing, we believe this is an activity best left to trained professionals who understand the legal and ethical constraints of such activities.

Background checks are often the last shield between a hiring company and a particularly slick candidate who interviews well. You might be surprised at how many people woman with mag glassmisrepresent their educational credentials, for example. In recent years, the media has exposed numerous scandals resulting from puffery in nearly every sector.

• In 2004, Quincy Troupe, poet laureate of the State of California and a tenured college professor, resigned his post. The reason? He had lied for years about his background, listing himself as a graduate of Grambling University. In fact, the professor (who was in charge of training graduate students, among other duties) he had never even finished a bachelor’s degree.
• Jeffrey Papows, former president of Lotus Software, was revealed by a 1999 Wall Street Journal investigation to have habitually exaggerated his past and accomplishments. While he claimed to be an orphan who rose through military ranks to eventually earn a Ph.D. from Pepperdine, he in fact had parents living in Massachusetts and a Ph.D. from a correspondence school. (He did, however, have a Master’s from Pepperdine.)
• Sandra Baldwin, former president of the United States Olympic Committee, resigned after admitting that she had lied on her resume about earning a Ph.D from Arizona State University. She had not.
• Joseph Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and professor of history at Mt. Holyoke College, was immensely popular for courses that included his personal insights into the violence and mayhem he had witnessed in Vietnam. In 2001, however, the Boston Globe exposed him: Dr. Ellis had never left the States during the Vietnam War.
• In 2002, Veritas Software lost its Chief Financial Officer, Kenneth Lonchar, who resigned after his employer found out he had lied about his education, including an MBA from Stanford. He never earned such a degree. The company’s stock plummeted in the weeks following these revelations.

There are many more cases like these. We could fill ten pages with just recent examples of resume-padding gone horribly wrong. Obviously all these people were highly accomplished, but their basic dishonesty about degrees and other background information introduced high levels of doubt about their overall ethics and trustworthiness.

If such visible and respected organizations can be successfully bluffed in their highest-level hires, it can happen to your organization, too. The only way to be sure everything you’ve heard is true is to invest the time and money to verify the candidate’s claims on his resume or other documents he completes and signs after beginning the interviewing process.

Many third-party providers can run a comprehensive background check to make sure there are no skeletons in any closet. These companies are fully up-to-date on laws that regulate the extent to which such checks can be used prior to employment.

If you decide to wait to run these checks until after you extend an offer, be sure you make the offer contingent upon satisfactory results from the background check.

1. Criminal Background. In rare cases, charming, and charismatic characters, who just happen to be crooks, have made it all the way into positions of power. In their own experience, they know of a candidate who was offered a position as CFO without a criminal check. It was revealed later — too late — that he was under active investigation by the FBI and had allegedly embezzled huge sums of money in the past. A criminal background check would have revealed these issues before the company hired him; no matter how charming and convincing he had been in interviews.
2. Credit. For any candidate who will be placed in a role where they will have access to the company coffers (or even something as innocent as a company credit card), we strongly recommend a credit check. Does the person have a huge amount of debt in the form of mortgages and consumer debt? Does the person make their required payments in a timely manner? Has the person filed for bankruptcy? What is their credit score? They realize that nobody is perfect, and while a high level of debt does not automatically disqualify a candidate, nor does the occasional late payment, there is merit in being cautious and checking these items. Financial pressure and stress can cause even the most well-intentioned people to snap. Knowing a high-level executive’s financial straits up front can help to head off potential problems.
3. Educational Background. It may not actually be important to the job whether somebody earned an MBA or simply attended a year of a program without finishing. However, dishonesty about educational achievement is a huge red flag that should cause you to dig much deeper in every other area. If a candidate lies about this accomplishment, what else might he or she be lying about? Because educational background is frequently misrepresented, this check is the most likely place where you will uncover discrepancies. Integrity matters. We never recommend going forward with a candidate who has lied about their education.
4. State Drivers’ License Bureau. If a candidate has a record of arrests for driving under the influence, reckless accidents, or other egregious traffic violations, it may be a hint of deeper problems — and potential liability or risk to the company.
5. Social Security Verification. Social Security will identify the names associated with the candidate’s social security number. While most discrepancies can be cleared up quickly (marriage or adoption changed the last name, or a religious conversion changed the entire name), multiple aliases may be a red flag and should be explained by the candidate.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Barry Deutsch is a well-known thought leader in hiring and peak performance management. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker for management meetings, trade associations, and CEO forums, such as Vistage International, a worldwide CEO membership organization of more than 15,000 CEOs and senior executives. Many of his clients view him as their virtual Chief Talent Officer. Barry is also frequently asked to present IMPACT Hiring Solutions award-winning programs on hiring, retention, and motivating top talent and leverages a vast knowledge base of 25 years in the executive search field, with a track of successful placements in multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurial firms, and middle-market high-growth businesses. He has worked closely with thousands of CEOs and key executives to help improve hiring success, leverage human capital, and raise the bar on talent acquisition. Barry earned his BA and MA from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his executive search career, Barry held positions of responsibility in Finance and General Management with Mattel, Beatrice Foods, and Westinghouse Cable.  Barry can be contacted at barry@impacthiringsolutions.com or 310-378-4571.

Brad Remillard, an executive recruiter with more than 30 years of experience, has conducted more than 10,000 interviews and been involved in more than 2,000 executive searches.  In 2005 along with his partner of 25 years, Barry Deutsch, he co-founded the company IMPACT Hiring Solutions. This firm is dedicated to providing best practices hiring techniques to companies seeking to reduce turnover, recruit qualified candidates, improve interviewing that reduces hiring errors and eliminates candidate embellishment and exaggeration. IMPACT Hiring Solutions accomplishes this via its on-site manage hiring workshops utilizing our trademarked, Success Factor Methodology. These comprehensive in-house workshops and training programs are highly customized solutions to the specific company’s needs. Previously he served as President of CJA Executive Search, which was recognized as one of the top search firms in Southern California. Brad has trained thousands of managers how to recruit, interview and retain top talent for both Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial companies.  Brad can be reached at brad@impacthiringsolutions.com or 949-310-5659.

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 soon to be released “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help 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://www.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.

Stop Trying to Shortcut the Hiring Process

By Dana Borowka

If they hadn’t gone on a “shortcut,” the world probably wouldn’t know who the Donner party is today. There is a lesson in this infamous tragedy for all hiring managers.

For the wagons of the Donner party, a group of 81 westward-bound pioneers who were stopped by a blizzard at the gateway to California in the fall of 1846, getting over the Sierra covered wagonsummit proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. In a 2008 book, Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West, journalist Ethan Rarick chronicled the misadventures of the infamous group.

Rarick argues because of an ill-advised decision to take an untested shortcut earlier that summer—the wagon train, named after its leader, George Donner, was trapped by a severe fall storm. When their food ran out, they roasted shoestrings and ate animal hides to stay alive. Finally, snowbound, with little hope of rescue, they started to eat those who died by starvation. The 45 survivors were rescued in February of 1847.

But why did it happen? The members of the Donner Party listened to some hucksters on the trail who had an idea of a straighter route to try. The problem was that the shortcut went over the Wasatch Mountains and through the Great Salt Lake desert; however, these two barriers meant that straighter was not really shorter. The three-week delay led to disaster.

The Donner party was not a military expedition, band of gold seekers, or a group of explorers. These were ordinary people trying to find a better life. The tragic mistake was being duped into believing there was an easy shortcut.

Beware of Shortcut Hiring Hucksters Today

Not to alarm you, but don’t take choosing a personality test lightly. There are many services that boast a quick and easy way to profile a job candidate with personality testing. Taking these shortcuts can result in bad hires that have a negative impact on your bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.maze cutting

According to the research in my book, Cracking the Personality Code, today there are around 2,500 cognitive and personality tests on the market. So how do you decide which one to use? An organization risks lawsuits if it fails to do proper due diligence in test selection. That’s because there are a multitude of assessments available out there and the industry is totally unregulated.

To understand how to choose from the plethora of personality tests, it is helpful to understand the origins of these instruments.

The quest began in a mental hospital in Minnesota during World War II. A test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was created to diagnose mental illness with yes-or-no responses to a series of questions. In an attempt to put some science into the hiring process, many companies start employing psychologists who in turn used this existing MMPI psychopathological test to screen job applicants. The test includes true-false questions like “I never indulge in unusual sex practices” and “I feel sure there is only one true religion.” Of course, this seemed strange and intrusive to most job applicants who took the test over the next six decades.

Meanwhile, a Harvard University instructor and psychologist named Raymond Cattell working in the Adjutant General’s office devised psychological tests for the military. After the war he accepts a research professorship at the University of Illinois where they were developing the first electronic computer, the Illiac I, which would make it possible for the first time to do large-scale factor analyses of his personality testing theories.

runs with computerCattell used an IBM sorter and the brand-new Illiac computer to perform factor analysis on 4,500 personality-related words. The result was a test to measure intelligence and to assess personality traits known as the Sixteen Personality Factor questionnaire (16PF). First published in 1949, the 16PF profiles individuals using 16 different personality traits. Cattell’s research proved that while most people have surface personality traits that can be easily observed, we also have source traits that can be discovered only by the statistical processes of factor analysis.

In 1963 W.T. Norman verified Cattell’s work but felt that only five factors really shape personality: extraversion, independence, self-control, anxiety and tough-mindedness. Dubbed the “Big Five” approach, this has become the basis of many of the modern personality tests on the market today. There have been hundreds and hundreds of studies validating the approach.

The five decades of research findings has served as the framework for constructing a number of derivative personality inventories. This is a topic that’s been researched extensively by the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Some clear dictates of what to do and what not to do have emerged.

Five Dos and Don’ts

Some personality testing services simply deliver a test score and guidelines. Others provide a superficial level of analysis that is not much to go on. What hiring managers really need is an in-depth analysis of the test in the context of the job description and the candidate’s resume.

Here are my top five shortcut don’ts:

• Don’t use a basic personality screening that takes 20 minutes or less as a final screening tool.
• Don’t skip a phone interview.
• Don’t try to shorten multiple face-to-face interviews.
• Don’t skip background and reference checks, and never skip financial background checks when appropriate for the position.
• Don’t skip giving someone homework during the interviewing process.

Here are five dos:

• Do use an in-depth work style and personality assessment.
• Do look for red flags in the results concerning behavioral issues.
• Do use testing to identify how team members are likely to interact.
• Do use testing to ensure you have the right people in the right positions.
• Do use a trained professional to review the testing results with you – they should have a copy of the candidate’s resume and job description for the debrief discussion.

The testing procedure that a company follows can send a message to candidates that the company leaders are serious about who they hire. Successful people want to work with other successful people. In many cases, the candidate may accept a position from the organization they perceive to be more thoughtful during the hiring process.

Conclusion

The astounding thing is how many companies undertake such huge investments in hiring and do not pay attention to what is known about using personality assessments to pick out the people who are going to be the best. An in-depth assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. Armed with accurate and quantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. When it comes to limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions, there really is no shortcut.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018 

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” “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team 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.

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.

Can Your Staff Solve Challenges When Faced With Obstacles?

Excerpt from our book, Cracking the Business Code

It only takes a small adjustment of the tiller to get the boat back on course. – Nancy CroixMC900318220[1]

Today is the day to look beyond… to look at the many opportunities and the open horizons that can be in store for you and your organization. This is the time to rally the people that you work with and begin to collaborate and gather ideas in the following areas:

• Improving efficiency
• Raising the customer service bar
• Explore opportunities
• Operational processes
• Cost efficient ways to do things differently
• Identify specific traits in people that you’d like to add to your team
• How to better mentor staff members

Those are just a few areas to explore. Looking out into the future, you’ll want to take advantage of some of the fresh talent that will be available. However, you’ll need to be very selective as to who you’ll want on your team. Managing down just doesn’t work any longer. Understanding the strengths of an individual will help to promote a positive environment where people will want to share ideas that might not have been considered in the past. This is the time to build a positive reputation so your company is a magnet for attracting top talent.

Thinking Outside of the Box

MC910217089[2]I was at a restaurant recently and asked to see if an item that I didn’t see on the menu was available or if I had overlooked it on the menu. They didn’t have the item, but the staff response set me back. The server stated, “Our goal is to think out of the box. To do what we can to please the customer so that positive word of mouth is shared and that will result in more business for us!” Isn’t that what we all want: team members that will think out of the box, positive word of mouth about our business, to increase revenue? What we all need are people like that on our team. So the million-dollar question is: how do we get staff members to think along those lines and how can we attract people like that?

What Is Driving Your Top People?

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. Here are some action items for you to consider:

  1. Use an in-depth work style and personality assessment during the hiring process and for current staff.
  2. Use the data to manage, which in turn will reduce the learning curve for new hires and help to better understand current staff members.
  3. Place individuals in positions that they can succeed in based on their strengths.
  4. Take the time to constantly mentor and create plans to help individuals grow.
  5. Identify traits of individuals that you want in your organization and target those individuals through specific messages in ads, on the web, through networking, and association gatherings.

For your A players (your major contributors), play to their strengths and help them grow. Don’t ignore them just because they are doing well. These are the individuals that if they don’t MC900324776[1]feel engaged in helping the organization to continue to grow and improve, they’ll leave.

For your B players, nurture them through mentoring so they can become A players down the road. For your C players, measure and possibly remove them if they are eating up your time. Never spend 80 percent of your time and energy on the people who are producing 20 percent of your results.

Peel the Onion

But don’t write those C players off too fast. A small hotel chain had reservation reps that were not meeting the volume level that was being required. The manager thought they were just C players and was a very unhappy camper with his team. That person was placed in a different department and a new manager came in who sat down with each individual and then with the group. She discovered that 24 hours before a guest was going to arrive at the hotel property that a high percentage were calling in to verify the reservation and to get directions. This used up valuable call time, so as a team they brainstormed together and came up with a brilliant idea. Since the reps were asking for email addresses why not send an email confirmation 24-48 hours prior with a fun page welcoming the individuals and include links for weather and directions.

Guess what happened? Calls were reduced and the reps were able to take more calls for new reservations with less hold time. All because the manager took the time to ask questions to peel the onion back to identify the underlying issue. When the reps were asked why this topic hadn’t been addressed in the past they simply responded, “No one asked and we never thought of it.”

Set Your Sights on the Future

Make the most out of this environment by helping others in your team to be successful, build a positive reputation, ask your team for ideas and contribute to the well being of the entire organization, train staff to mentor others, and be on the look out for adding fresh talent to your team. Remember, it is important to be precise in what you are looking for and do a MC900297401[1]thorough job interview by asking probing questions, doing reference and background checks, and utilizing an in-depth work style and personality assessment.

This is the time to set your sights on the future, deal with the present by supporting your team, and ask for input. Set your organization on a course for long-term success by using proactive and collaborative mentoring, management, and vision. We’d love to hear about your successes.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

 

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. 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. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. 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, 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.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help 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://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Optimize Your Staffing Decisions By Using In-Depth Work Style & Personality Assessment Tools

Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from Cracking the Business Code

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 brain on crane to headin a bad hire situation. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes away 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. A personality assessment is a highly effective tool and an efficient use of company resources at this crucial point of the decision making process.

This section focuses on in-depth work style and personality 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 assessment, 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.

In-Depth Work Style and Personality Assessment Testing — A Standard in Recruiting

Assessment tests 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 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, 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. An assessment test can also ensure that your company continues to have the right people in the right positions and distribute assets and talents effectively.

Which Assessment Tool Should My Organization Use?

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style and personality profiles:

1. Training or degrees required for interpretation of the data. Weekend training programs can be problematic since testing and human behavior is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, organizations need as much information and understanding as possible as the consequences can be very costly.
2. A copy of the resume should be supplied to the testing company to review when discussing the assessment results. We suggest you make sure that they require this as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment.
3. Scale for “Impression Management” to understanding accuracy of results and if someone is trying to “fake good.”
4. Common warning signs: When a representative uses absolute statements when describing human behavior, like “People are all the same” or “People don’t change.” This will convey what their level of understanding of the human personality is. Or when someone claims that their profile is 98 or 99% accurate, which rarely can be clinically supported. If you hear this, ask how the data was collected.
5. Career matching: Some organizations claim to know what the perfect “sales person” or “secretary” is from a personality perspective. Ask how many careers and man with arrowsoccupations have been studied; is the database validated by outside organizations or only by “applied in-house studies.” “Ideal” is very difficult to define due to the variance of geography, job history, and education. What is most important is if the individual has a similar thought pattern that meets the criteria within the job description.
6. Number of clinical studies conducted by major universities and there should be multiple studies for validation purposes.
7. How long has the profile been used — what is the history?
8. How often is the normative database updated and where is the data coming from? (For example, U.S. Census 1990, 2000)
9. Cultural bias — is it built into the profile and for which countries?
10. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance and gender, culture, and racial bias?
11. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc).
12. Number of profiles administered.
13. Number of actual primary scales as defined by the “Big 5” testing standards. Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have — this can lead to misrepresentation of data.
14. Does the data provide the depth necessary to understand how an individual is wired inside?
15. Validity, reliability, and basis.

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 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 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.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 

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. 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. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. 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, 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.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help 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://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

How to Hire Loop Closers: Train, Talk and Test to Create a Terrific Team of Loop Closers

By Dana Borowka

Don’t you hate it when this happens? Most business execs face situations where they thought someone in their employ would do something and it turns out they either forgot, ignored you or did the wrong thing. All of these issues are a result of not closing the loop.

BizfootballBusiness leaders struggle to get important tasks done because they have to rely on others. Unfortunately, this reliance is just part of doing business. To better achieve your objectives, it’s vital that you create a team committed to follow through — closing the loop — so that vital actions can get done.

In business jargon, “closing the loop”, means to follow up on and/or close out an area of discussion. The phrase is closely related to “circle back around” and “loop in”.

Closing the loop is akin to following up, checking in or closing the deal. The term comes from control systems where they close the control loop in order for the system to remain stable. The opposite of a stable system is one that is unstable. In control system parlance, this is referred to as an open loop system since it has no feedback and thus will likely spin out of control — kind of like projects without any follow-up.

The secrets of creating a team of loop closers are the three Ts: training, talking, and testing.

Training About It

A champion of closing the loop is Wanda Allen, a person with some pointed advice about the importance of follow up.

As a business banker for more than two decades, Allen has over 20 years experience in management and business development. Her area of expertise was SBA Lending where she managed SBA Departments that generated $100 million in annual loan volume. Her banking career built a thorough understanding for creating and retaining excellent client relationships while implementing a system that supports consistent closing the loop practices.

When the bank she worked for was acquired, she reinvented herself as a national speaker, coach and the author of the book, Follow Up Savvy, as well as being a contributing author to Amazon’s #1 Best Seller, Selling With Synchronicity.

Allen has five key teachings that should be used in employee training to create a loop closing culture. Teach your employees to do the following. Everyone you work with is a ”customer”. That includes all internal departments, vendors and clients.

1. Reach out right away. When you meet someone and feel a connection, reach out within 48 hours to take that relationship to the next level. “Networking is a popular way to meet new contacts and prospects,” says Allen. “However, all too often the new contacts are never followed up with. Studies show that 48 percent of sales people never follow up. This is a first impression opportunity that will make you memorable.”

2. Say thank you to your clients. They have agreed to do business with you and it’s important to show your appreciation. “When we were kids, we were taught to say thank you,” says Allen. “That simple act has all but disappeared. The fast paced culture we live in has pushed common courtesy to the side. Be different and say thank you.”

3. Keep your clients close. Stay in touch (another form of follow up) with your clients a minimum of three times per year, more if necessary. “As much as we think we wouldn’t be Bizpassingbatonforgotten about…we will if we’re not staying in touch,” says Allen. “This is especially important for transactional businesses. Even if a client was satisfied with your products and/or services, that’s not enough reason to be remembered. The only way to be remembered is to stay in touch.”

4. Call those clients. Call your clients for no other reason than to just say hi and see how they’re doing. This is always a nice surprise. “It’s a nice gesture to check in with your clients when it has nothing to do with business,” says Allen. “This is how the relationship and loyalty are strengthened. It shows that your client is more than the business being conducted. “

5. Closing the loop also requires technology. Decide on one database program that best fits your needs and use it consistently. A database program is the heart of an effective follow up system. “It’s very difficult to stay on top of your follow up responsibilities if the information is not centralized,” says Allen. “Without a database program, follow up becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. The program will keep the information organized and no one will ever be forgotten. “

Talking About It

Make closing the loop a part of your conversations at the workplace. A leader needs to be a storyteller, and one of the stories you want to tell is about the importance of closing the loop.

digginginTalk about what goes right and what goes wrong. A vital step in closing the loop—perhaps the most important—requires digging in to find the root causes of an individual customer’s problem, and, whenever possible, “fixing” the situation for that customer. This means you have to talk with those customers whose feedback deserves follow-up so you can probe deeper.

Tell your people time and again that the primary goal should be to fix the customer’s individual problems, but this follow-up can also help you identify and address more systemic issues. Talking about loop closing can guide you in improving products, policies, services and processes so that every customer gets a better experience and problems don’t recur.

Testing About It

Before you hire, test your top candidates to help determine if they are loop closers or if they have loop closing aptitude. To build a culture of loop closing, attitude and aptitude are everything.

While we are staunch advocates of in-depth work style & personality assessments, we admit there are limits to its power. If you meet a profiling organization that says you can decide to hire or not hire based on test data alone, please walk away. No, run away. Personality testing is not a silver bullet or magic potion.

The secret is to cultivate top performers through a three-step process: assess candidates with personality profiling, screen candidates for behavioral tendencies like an aptitude for loopquestionmkhead closing, and manage more effectively based on behavioral styles to reinforce the importance of follow up and follow through. The goal is to base your hiring and managing decisions on the best data that can be collected, not just your gut instincts (which can fool you).

Of course, no matter how good an interviewer you are, you are not getting the full picture during an interview. The next step has to do with background and reference checks and personality assessments. Trust, but verify.

What criteria should you use to screen an in-depth work style & personality assessment? Here are some questions you need to ask:

  • What training or degrees are required for interpretation of the data? Tests that only require a weekend training program to interpret data can be problematic since testing is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, managers need as much information and understanding as possible because the consequences can be costly.
  • If you hire a testing company, do they also review the person’s resume and job description? We suggest you make sure that the testing company requires that they are provided with the resume and job description as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment. Probe on issues of follow up, follow through and loop closing.
  • Does the test you use have a scale for “Impression Management” to understand the accuracy of results and determine if the test taker is trying to “fake good”? Yes, job candidates try to game the test. The questionnaire needs a minimum of 164 questions to gather enough data for this scale. 
  • What is the number of actual primary scales used? Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have.
  • Does the data provide the depth necessary to understand how an individual is wired inside? If they only use four primary scales, that is not sufficient. You need a minimum of 12 primary scales and 16 are optimal.

grouplightbulbThese are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated. In our book, Cracking the Personality Code you will find additional information on this topic. While personality testing can be a valuable resource before you hire, perhaps the true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides along the entire spectrum of employment. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective. Again, use the interview to find out if they have a good attitude and a good aptitude when it comes to the subject of being a loop closer.

Ready to learn more about closing the loop? Then click here for our bonus article, “Three Tips from Three Loop Closing Experts”.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

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.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help 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://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Top Ten Hiring Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

By Barry Deutsch & Brad Remillard – An excerpt from Cracking the Personality Code

There is a very important book that we feel every hiring manager in business today should read. You’re Not the Person I Hired is a guide that can make sure the person you bring into a critical job is, in fact, the person he or she appears to be.

According to this book, too often the hiring process is a case of mutually crossed fingers—both parties hope the match is a good one and hope the gamble they’re taking will pay intwoff. And then, regrettably, when Monday morning rolls around and the work begins, it all unravels.

Whose fault is it when the person who seemed like a fired-up go-getter turns out to be indifferent to goals she didn’t set herself? Whose fault is it when the person hired to overhaul the organizational IT system turns out to be short-tempered, impractical, and a lousy communicator who alienates every functional department head? Whose fault is it when the new sales manager seems to have no impact whatsoever on penetrating two new markets—a mission-critical goal that he seemed fully capable of doing in interviews? Whose fault is it when the person who shows up for the job isn’t the person you thought you hired?

“We believe the blame lies squarely with the hiring process itself, and we have compiled evidence to prove it,” says Barry Deutsch, who wrote the book with Brad Remillard and Janet Boydell.

“Our research focusing on more than 20,000 hiring executives during the past fifteen years has identified the most common mistakes made in hiring,” adds Deutsch. “Through the course of our analysis, we’ve determined the actual failure rate for newly hired managers and executives reaches a staggering 56% in many mid-sized and large organizations. We wanted to understand why. Prior to writing this book, we analyzed the hiring practices of 225 executive hires in 134 target companies.”

What the three authors discovered was that almost every organization makes the same mistakes, over and over again. Most often, several mistakes occurred in each case. In nearly every situation, when new executives and managers failed to meet expectations, a major causal factor was that expectations had not been clearly defined in the first place.

Everything else fell out from there. Here are their ten most frequent mistakes, in reverse rank order:

10. Desperation Hiring: In 55% of searches, the hiring organization failed to budget enough time for the search, resulting in shallow sourcing and superficial interviews that failed to identify potential pitfalls.

9. Ignoring Top Candidate’s Needs: 55% of searches were handled with a primary focus on the organization’s needs and failed to build a compel-ling case for why top candidates should make the move.

8. Failure to Probe for Core Success Factors: The five best predictors of long-term success are self-motivation, leadership, comparable past performance, job-specific problem solving, and adaptability. A majority of searches failed to probe for these (56%).magnify glass eye

7. Fishing in Shallow Waters: The search attracted only “Aggressive” candidates without seeking “Selective” and “Sleeper” candidates (62%).

6. Performance Bias: Interviews and offers were rewarded to the “best actor,” not the best candidate (63%).

5. Historical Bias: The hiring company used only past performance to predict future results (68%).

4. Snap Judgment: Hiring teams relied too heavily on first impressions to make final hiring decisions (72%).

3. Inappropriate “Prerequisites” Used Too Early in Selection Process: Hiring teams placed too much emphasis on specific education, technical skills, and industry experience to screen out qualified candidates (76%).

2. Superficial interviewing: Candidates’ backgrounds and claims were not deeply probed or verified (92%).

1. Inadequate job descriptions drove the hiring process; these focused solely on experience and skills, not company expectations. A staggering 93% of searches that resulted in new executive failure made this mistake at the outset.

The Causes of Hiring Mistakes

In their experience, the authors found that hiring mistakes are not caused by willful ignorance or negligence. Most often, new executive failure has several interrelated causes:

1. Inadequate preparation. Rarely had the hiring companies outlined a detailed, measurable definition of “success” that could be used to source, evaluate, and select candidates. Instead, they relied on outdated or insufficient job specs focused around desired attributes, educational attainment, and so on.

2. Lack of information. After the authors’ work with the surveyed companies, nearly all the companies dramatically improved hiring practices and (most important) the performance of new hires. The authors concluded, therefore, that at least one cause of earlier hiring failures was not endemic organizational dysfunction, but a lack of information and training about how to hire more effectively at the executive level.

3. “Human nature.” Interpersonal situations like interviews, conducted in a vacuum, are often guided primarily by gut feelings. Hiring team members who have not been trained to minimize these distractions are easily influenced by preconscious perceptions and nonverbal cues. When provided with a toolset designed to counterbalance these biases, inter-view team performance is far more likely to overcome distractions and focus on more critical success-based matters.

With the most common hiring mistakes and their causes in mind, they have developed and refined the Success Factor Methodology™ (for more information go to the website www.impacthiringsolutions.com). This structured approach to executive hiring helps client companies prevent predictable, avoidable hiring pitfalls that plague many new-employee hires. The authors believe every organization—large or small, for-profit or nonprofit, public or private—is capable of using this methodology to significantly improve its hiring target practicesuccess at all levels of the organization.

There is only one way they’ve discovered to make sure the next employee you hire is successful: Tightly define what success will look like before the search begins, and focus like a laser beam on verifying whether each candidate you see has the demonstrated potential to create that success. The Success Factor Methodology requires a rethinking of almost every part of your hiring process. The progress you make will correlate directly with the amount of dedication, focus, leadership, and effort you expend. It works when you work—and there are no shortcuts.

Stay Focused When the Finish Line Is in Sight

You’re not the Person I Hired also covers that important time when the interview is over. The candidate has left the building. “Now comes the hard part; making sense of what you’ve just heard,” says Deutsch. “Assessment, verification, evaluation, and in-depth analysis of the candidate’s stories and claims are on the docket for the interview team.”

Do you have a systematic process to ensure the candidates have been truthful? How do you ensure you are continuing with the right candidate as you move through various interviews?

If you’re like most hiring executives, when you interview a candidate, you scribbled a few notes in the resume margin. You formed a general impression based on a mélange of nonverbal cues and behaviors. You’ve already decided that you “like” or “don’t like” the candidate. But you don’t have a tool to help you compare apples to apples, and candidates to your Success Factor Snapshot.

The Water Cooler Is No Place to Debrief

The authors have frequently seen interviewers emerge from a round of interviews and then commiserate near the proverbial water cooler.

• “So, what did you think of Candidate A?”
• “Well, he seemed enthusiastic.”
• “She had a lot of energy.”
• “He was polite.”
• “Seemed okay. I think he could probably do the job.”watercooler talk

These abstract impressions are not grounded in what’s needed to succeed on the job. A case in point from the authors’ experience: One of the best people a client of theirs ever hired nearly wasn’t invited back for a second interview. She was a powerhouse—highly accomplished, with more than enough demonstrable success behind her. In terms of her ability to do the job, she stood head and shoulders above all other candidates.

There was, however, a “problem.” The candidate was not a fashion plate. The company’s employees tended to be fashionable, with name-brand labels oozing out of every office suite. The candidate arrived at the first inter-view in a tasteful but conservative suit, her hair pulled back in a plain style, wearing minimal makeup. Some members of the interview panel (they never asked who, exactly) apparently fixated on her “lack of grooming.”

When Deutsch spoke to the hiring team after the first interview and they expressed reluctance to continue interviewing the candidate, he was puzzled. It took considerable probing to uncover the fact that the interviewers who had expressed reservations were subconsciously prejudiced based on the candidate’s “stodgy, plain” clothing and makeup.

However, the position was not one that required interfacing with clients who would expect flash and style. She would be managing sophisticated financial analysis, planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

Here was a candidate with phenomenal qualifications who had nailed the answer to every question they gave her—but she wasn’t “glam” enough?

Deutsch let the hiring committee know what a mistake they were making. The important question, he reminded them, was not whether this candidate subscribed to Vogue and Elle, shopped at Saks, or invested a fifth of her income in facials, French manicures, MAC makeup, or triple-foil high-lights. The important question—the only question—was whether she could do what the company needed done.

The hiring team rethought their position. The candidate was invited back, eventually offered the job, promoted twice, and last they knew, was still successfully making things happen nearly a decade later, Armani suit or no.

This episode crystallizes a universal truth about candidate evaluation: Superficial, irrelevant issues often get more of an interviewer’s attention than real substance.

“Criteria” to Toss Out

When you interview, what’s on your mental checklist? Some of the most time-honored “criteria” have absolutely nothing to do with whether a candidate can do the job.

selecting people• Strong presentation
• Assertive or aggressive
• Manicured
• Polished shoes in the right color (brown with navy, not black)
• “Enthusiasm”
• High energy
• Good eye contact
• Strong handshake
• Well-spoken
• Instant, unhesitant recall of events from many years ago (honestly, if somebody asked you about something that happened in 1993, wouldn’t you pause and look up to the right as you tried to remember all the details?) Smooth speech without “ums” or stutters or backtracking.
• Personable

Many hiring mistakes occur because the hiring team draws first impressions from factors like these, or because the candidate either wowed them or bored them during interviews. The team can lose sight of the real goal: measuring the candidate’s ability to deliver the results defined in the success factor worksheet.

“You’re not hiring an actor,” says Deutsch. “You’re hiring an operations director, or a VP of finance, or a plant manager. In what way, exactly, does a candidate’s handshake correlate with their ability to succeed in those jobs?”

In some jobs, of course, presentation skills and a solid professional appearance are important. But focusing on “hot-button” factors like those in the list above does not help to select the right candidate.

The Eight-Dimension Success Matrix™

To eliminate interviewers’ ingrained tendency to focus on superficial criteria and miss substantive evidence, they developed a structured tool to help each interviewer evaluate each candidate—objectively, fairly, and comprehensively.

The Eight-Dimension Success Matrix is the tool the authors of You’re Not The Person I Hired have their clients use to rate “fit” based on the examples, illustrations, specifics, results, accomplishments, and patterns of behavior that emerge in candidate interviews.paper pen person

It is quick to use, easy to understand, and focused on the job itself. Perhaps most importantly, it calibrates interviewer ratings, keeping every-one on the same page. Built around the five key predictors of success, the Eight-Dimension Success Matrix forces interviewers to assess answers to questions in a uniform way.

Accountability to the group is vital. When interviewers know they will have to justify the ratings assigned to each candidate to the entire group of interviewers—especially if they’ve designated Candidate A’s Team Leadership ability 1 while everybody else assigned her a 2—the whole process is taken more seriously.

Because each member of the interviewing team fills out an Eight- Dimension Success Matrix form after each interview, by end of a long interview cycle a candidate’s file may contain twenty or more forms. The full file allows the person with final hiring power to evaluate a full spectrum of data on all Success Factors. Skimming the right column helps the hiring executive to rapidly compare the same candidate interview-to-interview and also to evaluate candidates’ qualifications against each other on equal footing. For more information on the Eight-Dimension Success Matrix form, go to the website www.impacthiringsolutions.com.

When References Go Bad

If a candidate makes it to the second round of interviews, it’s getting serious. You’ve settled on one or possibly two candidates. You believe with all your heart, soul, and mind that one is the right person for the job. He or she seems to be the cherry on the sundae, and you’re looking forward to making the job offer to the number one candidate.

phone intwYou phone HR and tell them to make two quick reference calls based on names and numbers the candidate has given you. Once that’s done, you figure, it’s a wrap. Stop right there.

Even though most reference calls tend to be five-minute, rubber stamp, “Is-he-a-nice-guy / would-you-rehire-her / did-she-do-well” conversations, yours will not be. Your calls won’t even technically be “reference calls.” They will be twenty to thirty minutes long. They will go into great detail. They will be deep third-party verifications of what the candidate has told you in the interviews. You will push and probe for nearly as much detail with each reference as you did with the candidate.

You must do so, not because you do not trust this person (it’s obvious that you do, or you wouldn’t be on the cusp of offering him a job), but be-cause verification is a mandatory step in a proven hiring process. Ordinary reference calls (and even background checks—more on that in a moment) don’t get to the heart of potential problems. Most people who receive reference calls expect to be on the line for fewer than ten minutes. They expect to be able to say simple things like, “Cathy is a great worker! You can’t go wrong hiring her. I’d rehire her in an instant.”

But you, as the hiring company, are about to invest literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new hire. To do so without fully verifying what the candidate has told you would be irresponsible. Up until now, you’ve had only the candidate’s word to go on. References, though, are a treasure chest waiting to be opened and explored.

Finding the Right Reference

First off: no family, friends, or personal references. While many applicants still include these in their list, personally invested people are unlikely to yield much useful information. When a reference’s primary relationship with a candidate is personal, there is an automatic conflict of interest. Their loyalty is to the candidate, not you, and most importantly, they are unlikely to be able to speak intelligently about the candidate’s work accomplishments.

Once you’ve decided you want to hire a particular candidate, ask them for three to five professional references. Ideally, these should be former bosses, peers, or individuals they have supervised. The authors suggest to their search clients that reference checks should be conducted on a 360- degree basis, including all the individuals who might touch this person, both inside and outside the company. Ask for the numbers of key customers, vendors, and suppliers.

If the candidate is still employed at a company where they have been for a long time (five years or more), and they would prefer you do not contact their boss until an offer is made, work around it as best you can. Perhaps a former mentor from another department has left the company and would be able to speak about them. Maybe the person who hired them originally and saw them through their meteoric rise first few years is now retired and living in Key West—call her.

A Top 5% candidate, if he or she is interested in the job, will work with you on this and may even agree to let you contact a current employer under certain circumstances. As a last resort, sometimes candidates will grant you permission to talk with their boss once an offer is formally presented. You can always make the offer contingent upon the successful outcome of reference checks.

Because coworkers and colleagues have usually spent more time with the candidate than the boss, they are outstanding sources of verification. Usually “lateral” references can offer deeper insights into work style, team leadership ability, personality, and cultural issues. Pay particular attention to these areas when speaking to former coworkers, probing for any indications that the person may pose interpersonal problems or “rub people the wrong way.”

Going Deeper: Secondary References

Don’t stop at the first layer of verification. When you speak to first-tier references (those whose names the candidate gave you), ask whom else the candidate worked with, reported to, supervised, or led as part of a team. These are secondary references, and they are additional potential sources of objective verification.

Then, go back to the candidate and ask them whether they would mind if you contacted these secondary references. A highly qualified candidate will usually agree immediately.diving

If you sense hesitation, it may be a red flag. If the candidate objects to contacting a secondary reference, ask why. Sometimes they will offer a good reason (“I was charged with supervising the team’s efforts. His department was always late with their deliverables and I had to ride him hard for a year to make sure he followed up on his commitments. I don’t think Judy, my primary reference, was aware of the ongoing friction between their departments, but Bob in accounting was on the same team. Would you like me to put you in touch with him?”). Other times, they will be vague and evasive (“Um, well, we didn’t work together much and she didn’t have anything to do with my projects. I don’t think she’d really be able to tell you much.”). Listen carefully to the answers you receive from the candidate and make an informed judgment call before proceeding with a secondary reference verification interview.

As a rule of thumb, if you get strong verification not only from a candidate’s “first tier” of references, but also from secondary references, you can almost bet the farm you’ve found the candidate you’re seeking. (Almost. See “Background Checks” before you leap, though.)

Finally, it is important not to “wear out” references. Third-party verification calls should be one of the last items on the hiring agenda, not the first. Not even the middle. The Eight-Point Success Validation form is lengthy and intense and will take at least thirty minutes to complete; this is a significant investment of time, and you should let people know up front that the call will take this long.

A good third of the information you need about candidates is obtained in verification phone calls. It’s best to set expectations early in a reference phone call. Make it clear that you are not asking for a recommendation. Rather, you are verifying information that you’ve been given, and you would appreciate as much detail as the reference feels comfortable giving.

The Vital Role of Testing and Assessment

The authors of You’re Not the Person I Hired strongly believe testing is a valuable adjunct to the Success Factor Methodology, because when administered correctly, tests can uncover useful information about personality traits, potential for high achievement, and other factors that may not be immediately evident in an interview situation. However, there are several cautions about assessment instruments.

“We highly recommend that our clients use an outside, third-party as-assessment professional who is specifically trained to select appropriate tests, as well as administer and interpret the results,” says Deutsch.

Beyond using appropriate personnel, they advise the following:

1. The instrument must be appropriate to the job. Each selected test should measure traits, characteristics, and skills that are directly and obviously relevant to the job. Appropriate scales may be honesty and integrity—important qualities for the person who will be in charge of the company coffers. On the other hand, there is no apparent reason to administer an instrument like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which is designed to test for mental and emotional disorders.man and eye glass

2. The instrument must be valid and reliable. The Buros Institute, an organization founded in 1935 to catalog and evaluate psychological tests, publishes two comprehensive directories that can help you select instruments known to be reliable and valid. The Mental Measurements Year-book and Tests in Print are available at most libraries and contain descriptions and reviews of psychological instruments. Be sure to ask consulting industrial psychologists whether the assessments they use are listed in these directories. If you are interested in how they were developed and validated, you can consult these reference works. At last count, the volumes had collected development, price, administration, and interpretation data on more than 11,000 instruments.

3. Be wary of free online tests. Unless they come from a highly regard-ed institute and/or are listed in one of the books mentioned above, they may not be valid and reliable instruments.

4. The instrument must be administered and interpreted professionally. It cannot be emphasized enough that tests, inventories, personality profiles, and the like are difficult to interpret for a nonprofessional. Human resources professionals are generally not qualified to administer psychological or behavioral tests. If you do choose to use some form of assessment to help you make a hiring decision, it is safer and more effective to delegate responsibility to a third party, who will likely ask candidates to sign waivers before taking the tests. These professionals will also ensure that untrained people on the hiring team do not focus on one or two potentially “negative” findings in a twenty-page report—something they have seen frequently.

A Comprehensive Background Check

Finally, we reach the granddaddy of all pre-hiring due diligence: the background check. As with psychological and personality testing, the authors believe this is an activity best left to trained professionals who understand the legal and ethical constraints of such activities.

Background checks are often the last shield between a hiring company and a particularly slick candidate who interviews well. You might be surprised at how many people misrepresent their educational credentials, for example. In recent years, the media has exposed numerous scandals resulting from puffery in nearly every sector.

• In 2004, Quincy Troupe, poet laureate of the State of California and a tenured college professor, resigned his post. The reason? He had lied for years about his background, listing himself as a graduate of Grambling University. In fact, the professor (who was in charge of training graduate students, among other duties) had never even finished a bachelor’s degree.

• Jeffrey Papows, former president of Lotus Software, was revealed by a 1999 Wall Street Journal investigation to have habitually exaggerated his past and accomplishments. While he claimed to be an orphan who rose through military ranks to eventually earn a Ph.D. from Pepperdine, he in fact had parents living in Massachusetts and a Ph.D. from a correspondence school. (He did, however, have a Master’s from Pepperdine.)

• Sandra Baldwin, former president of the United States Olympic Committee, resigned after admitting that she had lied on her resume about earning a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. She had not.

• Joseph Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and professor of history at Mt. Holyoke College, was immensely popular for courses that included his personal insights into the violence and mayhem he had witnessed in Vietnam. In 2001, however, the Boston Globe exposed him: Dr. Ellis had never left the States during the Vietnam War.

• In 2002, Veritas Software lost its chief financial officer, Kenneth Lonchar, who resigned after his employer found out he had lied about his education, including an MBA from Stanford. He never earned such a degree. The company’s stock plummeted in the weeks following these revelations.

“There are many more cases like these,” says Deutsch. “They could fill ten pages with just recent examples of resume-padding gone horribly wrong. Obviously all these people were highly accomplished, but their basic dishonesty about degrees and other background information introduced high levels of doubt about their overall ethics and trustworthiness.”

If such visible and respected organizations can be successfully bluffed in their highest-level hires, it can happen to your organization, too. The only way to be sure everything you’ve heard is true is to invest the time and money to verify the candidate’s claims on his resume or other documents he completes and signs after beginning the interviewing microscopeprocess.

Many third-party providers can run a comprehensive background check to make sure there are no skeletons in any closet. These companies are fully up-to-date on laws that regulate the extent to which such checks can be used prior to employment.

If you decide to wait to run these checks until after you extend an offer, be sure you make the offer contingent upon satisfactory results from the background check.

1. Criminal Background. In rare cases, charming and charismatic characters who just happen to be crooks have made their way all the way into positions of power. In the authors’ own experience, they know of a candidate who was offered a position as CFO without a criminal check. It was revealed later—too late—that he was under active investigation by the FBI and had allegedly embezzled huge sums of money in the past. A criminal background check would have revealed these issues before the company hired him, no matter how charming and convincing he had been in interviews.

2. Credit. For any candidate who will be placed in a role where they will have access to the company coffers (or even something as innocent as a company credit card), the authors strongly recommend a credit check. Does the person have a huge amount of debt in the form of mortgages and consumer debt? Does the person make their required payments in a timely manner? Has the person filed for bankruptcy? What is their credit score? The authors realize that nobody is perfect, and while a high level of debt does not automatically disqualify a candidate, nor does the occasional late payment, there is merit in being cautious and checking these items. Financial pressure and stress can cause even the most well-intentioned people to snap. Knowing a high-level executive’s financial straits up front can help to head off potential problems.

3. Educational Background. It may not actually be important to the job whether somebody earned an MBA or simply attended a year of a program without finishing. However, dishonesty about educational achievement is a huge red flag that should cause you to dig much deeper in every other area. If a candidate lies about this accomplishment, what else might he or she be lying about? Because educational background is frequently misrepresented, this check is the most likely place where you will uncover discrepancies. Integrity matters. The authors never recommend going forward with a candidate who has lied about their education.

4. State Drivers’ License Bureau. If a candidate has a record of arrests for driving under the influence, reckless accidents, or other egregious traffic violations, it may be a hint of deeper problems—and potential liability or risk to the company.

5. Social Security Verification. Social Security will identify the names associated with the candidate’s Social Security number. While most discrepancies can be cleared up quickly (marriage or adoption changed the last name, or a religious conversion changed the entire name), multiple aliases may be a red flag and should be explained by the candidate.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015 

Barry Deutsch, MA is a well-known thought leader in hiring and peak performance management. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker for management meetings, trade associations, and CEO forums, such as Vistage International, formerly known as TEC, a worldwide CEO membership organization of more than 15,000 CEOs and senior executives. Many of his clients view him as their virtual Chief Talent Officer. Vistage International named Barry “IMPACT Speaker of the Year”… Barry is also frequently asked to present IMPACT Hiring Solutions award-winning programs on hiring, retention, and motivating top talent and leverages a vast knowledge base of 25 years in the executive search field, with a track record of successful placements in multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurial firms, and middle-market high-growth businesses. He has worked closely with thousands of CEOs and key executives to help improve hiring success, leverage human capital, and raise the bar on talent acquisition. Barry earned his BA and MA from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his executive search career, Barry held positions of responsibility in Finance and General Management with Mattel, Beatrice Foods, and Westinghouse Cable. Barry is a co-author of the book, You’re Not The Person I Hired. You can reach him at barry@impacthiringsolutions.com.

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.

The Eight-Point Success Matrix™

By Barry Deutsch

To eliminate interviewers’ ingrained tendency to focus on superficial criteria and miss substantive evidence, we developed a structured tool to help each interviewer evaluate each candidate—objectively, fairly, and comprehensively.

The Eight-Point Success Matrix is the tool or scorecard we have our clients use to rate “fit” based on the examples, illustrations, specifics, results, accomplishments, and patterns of behavior that emerge in candidate interviews.intw blockstyle

It is quick to use, easy to understand, and focused on the job itself. Perhaps most importantly, it calibrates interviewer ratings, keeping everyone on the same page. Built around the five key predictors of success in our SUCCESS FACTOR METHODOLOGY™, the Eight-Point Success Matrix forces interviewers to ask the right questions and probe until they have enough information to complete the form. To use this scorecard in the interviewing process, we are assuming the interviewer is well-versed in our 8-step SUCCESS FACTOR METHODOLOGY, particularly the steps involving defining success for a particular role, the process of how to interview for success by using the 5 core questions, and the approach of uncovering the truth behind candidate responses by applying the magnifying Glass Technique. These 8-steps are explained in more depth on our website or in our book titled, You’re Not the Person I Hired. You can also download the Eight-Point Success Matrix from our site.

Accountability to the interviewing group is vital. When interviewers know they will have to justify the ratings assigned to each candidate to the entire group of interviewers—especially if they’ve designated Candidate A’s Team Leadership ability “1” while everybody else assigned her a “2”—the whole process is taken more seriously.

Because each member of the interviewing team fills out an Eight-Point Success Matrix form after each interview, by end of a long interview cycle a candidate’s file may contain twenty or more. The full file allows the person with final hiring power to evaluate full-spectrum of evaluation on all Success Factors. Skimming the right column helps the hiring executive to rapidly compare the same candidate interview-to-interview, and also to evaluate candidates’ qualifications against each other, on equal footing.

How to Use the Form

The most important consideration in using the matrix is this: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Put Off Completing the Form After Each Interview. Human memory fades rapidly four to six hours after an event. Once details are gone from short-term memory, they are lost forever.

biz timeYou absolutely must ensure that your hiring process does not fall victim to procrastination and memory loss (“Er, gee, I think this was the guy with the orange tie who used to work at Enron, yeah? Or was that Exxon? Shoot, I don’t remember…”) The hiring team leader must make sure each interviewer sits down immediately after the interview (or by that same day’s end, at the latest) to complete the sections for which they have gathered enough information.

It is almost certain that no interviewer will be able to fill out an entire matrix after just one interview. That’s fine—they should leave blank any sections that require more information, and make notes regarding what questions to ask in the next interview in the “Comments” area.

We highly recommend that somebody on the interviewing team—preferably the hiring manager him- or herself—be charged with distributing and collecting the Eight-Point Success Matrix forms before and after each round of interviews. When people know they’ll be held accountable at the end of the day, they won’t put off what needs to be done. While there are few rules about using the Matrix, there are several tips to keep in mind:

  1. The form should be explained and discussed fully among the team before interviews begin.
  2. Each interviewer should understand the difference between a score of 0, 1, 2, and 3.
  3. Each interviewer should understand what each of the Factors is intended to measure.
  4. A candidate who rates Zeros in any category is probably not the best choice for the job.
  5. The “sweet spot” on the Eight-Point Success Matrix form is a ranking of “2.” Not too hot or too cold—just right.
  6. Depending on the job, it is possible that a candidate with one or two ratings of “1” might still be up to the job.
  7. A candidate whose Matrix scores are consistently “3” across the board is likely overqualified. At a minimum you might encounter a fair level of difficulty retaining this individual. He or she would probably become bored with the job and is therefore NOT always a good choice.
  8. Your hiring team should discuss their rankings of the final candidates in great detail to make sure no questions or concerns are left un-addressed.

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

Barry Deutsch, MA is a well-known thought leader in hiring and peak performance management. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker for management meetings, trade associations, and CEO forums, such as Vistage International, formerly known as TEC, a worldwide CEO membership organization of more than 15,000 CEOs and senior executives. Many of his clients view him as their virtual Chief Talent Officer. Vistage International named Barry “IMPACT Speaker of the Year”… Barry is also frequently asked to present IMPACT Hiring Solutions award-winning programs on hiring, retention, and motivating top talent and leverages a vast knowledge base of 25 years in the executive search field, with a track record of successful placements in multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurial firms, and middle-market high-growth businesses. He has worked closely with thousands of CEOs and key executives to help improve hiring success, leverage human capital, and raise the bar on talent acquisition. Barry earned his BA and MA from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his executive search career, Barry held positions of responsibility in Finance and General Management with Mattel, Beatrice Foods, and Westinghouse Cable. Barry is a co-author of the book, You’re Not The Person I Hired. You can reach him at barry@impacthiringsolutions.com.

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.

How Robots Will Change the Future of Small Business

space robotBy Dana Borowka

Are robot employees in your future? Robots for small business have moved from science fiction to science fact.

Science fiction author, Isaac Asimov introduced The Three Laws of Robotics in his 1942 book, I, Robot (the basis for a 2004 film adaptation starring Will Smith.) Asimov’s Three Laws are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such actions would interfere with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

For a small business, I would like to add three more laws:

4. A robot must not call in sick.
5. A robot must not request a vacation day.
6. A robot must not ask for a raise.

When most people think robots in business they naturally form a mental picture of manufacturing industries such as automotive, electronics and consumer goods. However, small non-manufacturing businesses with fewer than 100 employees and 10 robots or less represent a growing segment of today’s market for robots.

What Exactly Is a Small Business Robot?

In practical terms, a robot usually refers to a machine which can be electronically programmed to carry out a variety of physical tasks or actions. The word robot can refer to both physical robots and virtual software, but the latter are usually referred to as bots. There is no consensus on which machines qualify as robots but there is general agreement among experts, and the public, that robots tend to do some or all of the following: move around, operate a mechanical limb, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior — especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals.

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) sets a standard for what constitutes a robot. ISO defines an industrial robot as being an “automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator” that is “programmable in three or more axes.”

However, a robot is more than a mere programmable machine like a Mr. Coffee. According to Majid Abai, Chief Sherpa of the IT and robot consulting firm, The Abai Group, to qualify as a robot requires a mechanical component and some level of programmable intelligence.

Abai is the founder and CEO of The Abai Group, Inc. He is a senior executive with a 30-year track record of building, transforming, and leading domestic and international organizations. Majid is focused on innovation, strategy, and execution in tech companies and IT departments. He speaks to technical and non-technical executives on how an effective IT organization and robotics could help increase business efficiency, revenues, and customer loyalty while reducing the costs for the company.

Abai says a true robot includes “the capability to add analysis to its tasks, not just serving as an automatically operated machine that replaces human effort.” Therefore ATM machines are not robots that replace bank tellers, and not because they do not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner. A device that automatically performs complicated and often repetitive tasks is not what Abai would call a robot.

food robotBy Abai’s definition, a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, would qualify. A Roomba features a set of basic sensors that help it perform tasks. For instance, the Roomba is able to change direction on encountering obstacles, detect dirty spots on the floor, and detect steep drops to keep it from falling down stairs. It uses two independently operating wheels that allow 360 degree turns. Additionally, it can adapt to perform other more “creative” tasks using an embedded computer.

Forget the cyborg imagery of sci-fi too. A Roomba, for instance, does not have to look like a domestic servant with a vacuum cleaner, like Rosie the robot from the 1960s animated TV show, The Jetsons. While a robot can be a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (such as walking or talking) of a human being, that is not the true difference.

Future Small Biz Jobs for Robots

Robots are best applied in any fixed, purely repetitive task where the motions involved are predictable and routine. These include the four Ps of picking, placing, packaging and painting, as well as some forms of assembly, ironing and welding. Compared to humans, robots are faster, have almost unlimited endurance, are more predictable or just provide outright superior precision. They are also very useful in jobs that are too dangerous for humans, such as handling containers of molten metal in foundries or radioactive substances at nuclear power plants.

Fast food workers, tax preparers and cashiers will be replaced by robots in the future. Here are just some of the other ways small business will use robots.

Nurses and Healthcare Worker. According to MSN Innovation writer Mark Hattersley, the Japanese are taking auto line production and delivering it straight to the hospital bedside. HStar Technologies is now taking orders for its Robotic Nursing Assistant (RoNA) and Serbot, and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University are putting the final touches on a nursebot called Pearl. According to the sales brochure, RoNA is a “stable, highly mobile, dexterous, autonomous, bi-manual humanoid robotic nursing assistant. Equipped with highly dexterous robotic arms of payload up to 10 lbs.” The Serbot is designed to monitor and transport elderly patients with limited mobility. Pearl even has built-in telepresence functionality, which essentially allows the patient to talk through the robot to a physician or nurse. The nurse or physician can control the robot remotely using a tablet device. When not being controlled remotely the robot performs routine caretaking tasks and checks on the status of patients.

Attorneys and Paralegals. The rise of the machines in the legal world is coming. According to Jordan Weissman of The Atlantic, attorneys have employed manual keyword searches to sort through the gigabytes of information involved in these cases. Now more firms are beginning to use a technology known as “predictive coding,” which essentiallywalking robot automates the process at one-tenth the cost. “Several studies have shown that predictive coding outperforms human reviewers, though by how much is unclear. A widely cited 2011 article in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology analyzed research on document review and found that humans unearthed an average of about 60 percent of relevant documents, while predictive coding identified an average of 77 percent.”

Truck Drivers and Chauffeurs. An autonomous car, or robot car, is an autonomous vehicle capable of fulfilling the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car. As an autonomous vehicle, it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. Today robotic cars exist mainly as prototypes and demonstration systems. The Google driverless car is a project by Google that involves developing technology for autonomous cars. The software powering Google’s cars is called Google Chauffeur. The U.S. state of Nevada passed a law in 2011, permitting the operation of autonomous cars in Nevada. Florida became the second state to allow the testing of autonomous cars on public roads and California became the third state to legalize the use of self-driven cars for testing purposes as of September 2012 when Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law at Google HQ in Mountain View. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder followed suit by signing legislation allowing the testing of automated or self-driving vehicles on Michigan’s roads in December 2013, but this legislation requires a human in the driver seat at all times while the vehicle is in use. For now.

Journalists and Copywriters. According to The Guardian, Forbes.com already uses an artificial intelligence platform provided by the technology company Narrative Science to generate automated news from live data sets and content harvested from previous articles. What makes it possible is that business news content tends to be formulaic and data-heavy, listing places, stocks and company names. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, uses robots to report on earthquakes: the organization relies on an algorithm that pulls in data on magnitude, place and time from a US Geological Survey site. NPR has reported on the use of robot sportswriters producing coverage of games.

Customer Service and Marketing Reps. Why outsource to India when you can use a robot instead? Another area where businesses use robots is in their marketing to consumers. Technology companies produce robots to demonstrate new devices or inventions and to create a sense of innovation and progress. Robots are part of interactive displays at trade shows where they compete with more traditional marketing tools for attendees’ attention.

Call Center Staffers and Outbound Callers. Every business needs some form of telecommunications infrastructure to communicate with suppliers and customers. Robots can simplify a business’ call center and handle incoming phone or Internet traffic to keep the channels of communication open and running smoothly. Automated calling robots place prerecorded calls, including appointment reminders and customer satisfaction surveys. Likewise, an automated call center uses a programmable interface to greet callers and direct them to the appropriate information or department.

Inventory Takers. Robots also perform inventory tasks for businesses with large warehouses or sorting facilities. Inventory robots are essentially driver-less vehicles that can navigate a warehouse and select specific pieces of merchandise, bringing them to employees who enter product requests into an automated system. Inventory robots save time and also reduce the likelihood of human error that can cause inconsistencies in inventory tracking.

Entertainers and Performers. Another class of robots used in business are those that entertain audiences. Robots and robotic displays appear in storefronts, in theme park attractions and in television and film programs. Some of these robots are skillfully crafted to resemble real people while others represent fantastical creatures or mechanical robots from a fictional world. Robot characters populate science fiction narratives while special effects robots endure hazardous conditions that would be unsafe for human or animal actors.

But Who Takes Care of the Robots?

Typically, many small business leaders today are not interested in using robots for three reasons: expense, lack of expertise, and fear. All of these will be overcome. As the price of robots continue to fall and functionality continues to rise, the robot employees are coming. The jump in productivity will demand it.

windup man robotThe answer to the lack of expertise and fear objections is to hire the right employees to help with your robotics. Without a doubt, a tough challenge for small business managers with robots is consistently hiring quality people to take care of the robots. These devices need to be set-up, programmed, monitored and repaired. No benefit comes without a price.

Hiring the wrong people to handle the robots will create many problems: reduced time to market, a loss of market share, higher turnover rates among productive humans on the payroll, lost management time, lost customers to the competition and the tremendous opportunity cost of unmet sales goals.

To improve any hiring decision, many companies have found they need to crack the personality code by using robust personality testing. Personality tests 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. This is not guesswork or an untested science.

Therefore, when hiring robot handlers the secret is to cultivate top performers through a three-step process: assess candidates with an in-depth work style and personality assessments, screen candidates for behavioral tendencies, and manage more effectively based on behavioral styles. The goal is to base your hiring and managing decisions on the best data that can be collected about the best personalities to work with the robots. The same you do for any employee.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC 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. 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. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. 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, 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.