In Your Last Interview – Did You Measure Initiative?

Employees With Initiative Hit the Bulls Eye All the Time

Employees with initiative hit the bulls eye all the time. Frequently, they exceed your targets and expectations. Is Initiative one of the major areas you focus on in an attempt to hire top talent – great employees – outstanding performers?

We’ve discovered that INITIATIVE is a primary element of success.

Top talent has extreme levels of initiative:

They anticipate what needs to be done

They go above and beyond the call the duty

They are proactive

They are step ahead of their peer group

They don’t wait to be told what to do

 

Who do you have on your team that demonstrates initiative? What if you could get another one or two? Measuring initiative is actually quite easy.

Initiative is a life-long pattern of behavior. You don’t wake up at 25, 32, or 47 and suddenly declare that you’re going to be proactive for the rest of your life.

The candidates who have it will share example after example with you in the interview. The ones who don’t – they’ll struggle to come up with a few substantive examples.

As many of you know, I coach high school girls basketball. We can predict the future success when a freshman (freshgirl?) enters our program from middle school/junior high. What is this one trait that separates average and mediocre performance from exceptional? You guessed it – initiative.

Have you ever played a high school sport or had children that played a sport? How do most kids treat their high school sport? Like a part-time job. They clock in seconds before practice starts and clock out seconds after it’s over. What do the very best do? They consistently show up early and stay late to work on their skills and competency.

I can observe a freshman for a few months and predict with a high degree of accuracy what she’ll be like 4 years later on our varsity team if she sticks it out for 4 years. How can I do this? By observing initiative that is an obvious pattern of superior performance. She may lack the skills, strength, and knowledge when she enters our program, but by the team she’s a senior – she’ll be a rock-star – primarily by applying herself at a much higher level than her peer group.

You can easily see this among potential applicants – regardless of the level of the job. Initiative is that one trait that acts a multiplier. Individuals without the right experience, education, missing skills, and lacking knowledge – can frequently overcome those deficiencies through initiative.

Do  you have good examples of members of your team demonstrating initiative? Do you believe this initiative is a one-time anomaly OR a pattern of consistent behavior?

This is the one trait that stands “head-and-shoulders” above other success-based behavioral traits. We find it in all top performers and we find it missing in average and mediocre employees. This is why we consider the “INITIATIVE” question to be the first question in our 5-core question interview approach.

To learn more about our 5-core question interview approach, and specifically in measuring initiative, please feel free to download one of the audio programs from our extensive library of Internet Radio Programs. You can view the different free audio programs on hiring and retaining top talent by clicking here.

Barry Deutsch

Can You Prevent Your Best People From Leaving?

Your talent is heading for the exit sign - retain them now

Are you at risk from your best people heading for the exit?

I was reading a blog from the Forbes website, and the article struck me that maybe it was time to raise this “elephant in the room” issue that no one wants to address.

I screamed “WOLF” about this issue a couple of times before – but let’s have at it again. Here’s what Edward Lawler said in his Forbes article (maybe you will not believe it when Barry Deutsch speaks – but perhaps an article on Forbes gives the concept some validity):

 

The economy is getting stronger, and as a result, more and more individuals are looking for better jobs. A recent survey by Lloyds found that executives believe a talent shortage is the number two risk facing business today, up from twenty-second place in 2009.

 

Put Retention PROGRAMS in place right now!

Are you putting specific retention programs in place right now. With the economy heating up, everyone acknowledging a talent shortage, and employee satisfaction hovering at depression-era levels, is anyone concerned that the lid may blow and lots of your best people starting leaving like dominos falling?

Once the brain drain begins, many of the folks who “aligned” themselves with your best talent, starting heading to the door with equal speed.

You can prevent your best people from leaving!

However, wishing and crossing your fingers doesn’t work. Nor does leaving it up to each individual manager.

Here are some proactive steps you can start taking today:

  • Identify your high potential/high impact employees
  • Ensure they have stimulating work
  • Sit down with each one and map out a learning and development plan for the next year
  • Assign an executive to be their mentor
  • Come up with a list of projects that will intellectually challenge them
  • Find places in your organization to leverage their best talents and skills
  • Are there non-monetary rewards and recognition you can give this group of “A” performers when they exceed your expectations?

 

Take Care of Your Best Talent

Not taking care of your “A” talent will result in the “A” talent leaving. I know it’s “unfair” to single out this group and give them specific notice, projects, and nurturing. Unfortunately, in most companies, the biggest successes, results, and outcomes follow the Pareto Principle. 20% of your workforce (typically your most talented) generate 80% of the significant change, improvement, and growth in your business. No surprises in that statement.

Are you ready to shift from a mental framework of abundance (typical in poor job market) of “these people should be lucky to have a job” to a framework of scarcity (typical in a good market). It’s been so long since we’ve had a good job market – it’s hard to remember what a struggle it can be to keep and recruit talent.

What’s your plan to keep your very best people engaged and “recruiter-proof” your company?

Read more about the techniques of recruiting and retaining top talent, especially what motivates great performers, in our award-winning and best-selling book, You’re NOT the Person I Hired. The book is available as a FREE digital download on our website.

To read the full article on Forbes, click the link below:

Preventing the Loss of Key Talent

Barry Deutsch

How Important Is Hiring and Retaining Great People?

Is Hiring and Retaining Top Talent Important To Your Organization?

On a recent Harvard Business Review Blog Article, titled Good Managers Lead Through a Team, Linda Hill & Kent Lineback spoke about how the ability to manage teams is one of the key pillars of success for managers and executives. This an excellent and well-written article that all managers and executives should read.

I commented on the article since I felt the authors missed the key point about people and teams. It’s not as much the ability to manage them – as it is the issue of hiring and retaining them.

Here were my comments to the authors. What are your thoughts?

 

Excellent post about a key pillar of successful managers and leaders. I'll go one step further. In our executive search practice, we've completed well over 1,000 projects and interviewed over 250,000 managerial and executive candidates over the last 25 years. We've identified that the NUMBER ONE element of success for managers and executives is hiring and retaining a top-notch team.

Even hiring managers and executives with technical weaknesses in their functional niche or specialty out-performed their more technically adept peers due to their stronger teams. It affects career progression, job opportunities, bonus and incentives, and job satisfaction.

Managers and Executives who hired middle-of-the-road minimally qualified candidates, and accepted mediocrity among their team members, had average and mediocre careers – passed over for promotions, denied new opportunities, and failed to earn their full bonus potential.

No other trait or ability appears to come close to the correlation of success for managers and executives and their ability to hire and retain top talent.

Unfortunately, most companies give the concept of hiring top talent and “our people are our most important asset” lip service. Rewards, incentives, goals, objectives, and consequences don't match the propaganda most companies spew out about their people and teams. You can find isolated cases of companies that make hiring and retaining a top priority – but the list is very small. More likely, you'll find a few managers and executives scattered through-out different companies who instinctively “GET IT.”

Why do you think there is such a gap between the generic words about the importance of people and team members vs. the practical application on a day-to-day basis?

 

Share your experience of what happens when managers and executives do a great job of hiring and retaining top talent vs. what happens when weak, average, and mediocre people are hired and “tolerated.”

If you would like to read the full article, click the link below:

Good Managers Lead Through A Team

Barry Deutsch

 

PS: Download a copy of our best-selling book “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” and take our Hiring Process Assessment to determine if your organization is capable of hiring top talent.

Using Non-Monetary Rewards to Retain Top Talent Part 2

Part One listed four of seven things companies can do to retain their top talent without spending a lot or giving increases in compensation.

The first four from Part One are:

1) Verbal Praise

2) Achievement Awards

3) Learning and Development

4) Fun and Recreation Events

Each of these can be done at the department or company level.  Each demonstrates a culture that rewards people for outstanding effort, provides a positive culture, and a culture that signals respect for the employee.

The last three are:

5) Company Wide Attention This is a step up from department rewards and recognition. This is at the company level. It is great to be honored or recognized by one's boss, however, when it is by the CEO or at a company level it is a completely different experience. Examples include, recognition in the company newsletter or on its Website, the up front parking space, a picture on the Wall of Fame, recognition at the annual staff meeting, a medal of distinction, any seemingly small thing for exceptional performance, for performing beyond the call of duty or an event that demonstrates extra effort.

It is often these small things that have the biggest and lasting impact.

6) Impactful and Meaningful Work This is one of the biggest reasons top talent contact executive recruiters. Top talent must be constantly challenged. They want to know what is expected of them. When clear direction is consistently lacking, they become frustrated and disengage. However, when top talent have a target to hit they will not only engage but strive to hit the bull's eye.

Giving your best people additional  challenges doesn't mean you have to constantly be expanding their responsibilities. There is a lot of  ground between saying, “That is your job and that is all there is.” to time-to-time challenging them with a special project, taking something off of your desk and giving it to them, allowing them to serve on an ad hoc project, stretching them with some strategic thinking, or involving them in an inter-department project. We find that all it takes is as little as 5% of top talent's time to be focused on impactful and meaningful work to make a difference.

7) Feedback This seems so obvious but many managers fail to do it. This is not the “good job” feedback discussed earlier. This feedback is at a much higher level. This is feedback that all top talent want and few get. This is what we call, 1-2-1 time. These sessions can be as short as 20 minutes a month. These 1-2-1 sessions focus on their growth, on improvement, build rapport, show genuine interest by the manager, and give time to demonstrate a personal interest in that individual. In our experience, when a manager takes the opportunity to conduct a 1-2-1 on a regular basis, the employee feels a part of the organization. They have the opportunity to be involved in the department, they can give and get feedback, participate, and be heard by their supervisor.

The 1-2-1 can be one of the most powerful experiences for an employee and their supervisor and it can be done in just 20 minutes a month.

Doing one or all of these seven things can dramatically impact your department or organization. In these difficult times any one of these will cement the loyalty of those top performers to you and your company. They will stand by you in difficult times and excel in great times

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

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Which of Your Employees Have a Miserable Job?

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

One of my favorite books, is Three Signs of a Miserable Job, by Patrick Lencioni.

Have you read this book yet? Every CEO should make it required reading for their management team.

Here’s an excellent YouTube Video with Lencioni talking about the book:

Here’s my homework assignment for you: Take an excel spreadsheet, list every employee in your company, and categorize them into one of the three main categories for a miserable job that Lencioni refers to in his book.

  • Anonymity: People need to be understood and appreciated by someone in a position of authority
  • Irrelevance: Everyone needs to know their job matters to someone
  • Immeasurement: Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves

That’s the easy part, the next part is then put action plans together to overcome these miserable elements of jobs in your company. Are you to this challenge?

You might say to me:

‘I don’t have a need to go through this with my employees. Our productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness is good enough. We don’t have to go through this time-consuming, painful process, to figure out what’s wrong with our jobs. If any of our employees don’t like their jobs, their welcome not to let the door hit them on the way out.

 

Should Employees Be Engaged and Satisfied?

I’m curious how many CEOs really believe that statement. Oh, no one raised their hands. Here’s the irony: The vast majority of CEOs don’t perceive a problem. Then why are the vast majority of your employees turned off, dissatisfied, disengaged, and are ready to look for a new job? Almost every study over the last few years indicates employee satisfaction has dropped to historical lows compared to the Great Depression.

What’s the risk of having employees feel like their job is miserable? What’s the risk of having disengaged, unhappy, dissatisfied, unmotivated employees?

The risk is a tolerance for “it’s not my job”, errors, customer dissatisfaction, turnover, poor performance and execution, below industry average levels of productivity, and a dysfunctional culture that permeates every element of your business. Wow – I depressed myself just making that list.

 

Create An Engaged Workforce of Happy Employees

When should you start to care about how your employees feel about their jobs? Should it be when you want to grow your business by $250,000 next year, or $22 million over the next 3 years?

If your approach to business is “it’s good enough”, then take no action.

If your approach to business is along the thoughts of Jim Collins in Good to Great, I challenge you that this could be one of the greatest areas for operational performance in your business over the next few years.

What are your thoughts? What’s your experience in implementing actions to overcome the 3 primary elements of a miserable job?

Barry Deutsch

PS – Take our FREE Culture Survey to get a quick grasp on how your employees might perceive your company and whether there is a risk of them being miserable. Click here to download the Culture Survey. This was one of the key chapters in our award-winning and best-selling book, titled “You're NOT the Person I Hired.”

If you would like to discover how to hire and retain top talent, we've made You're NOT the Person I Hired, available for FREE in an electronic version. To download your free copy of the book You're NOT the Person I Hired, click this link, or click the button below:

Download our FREE e-book - You're NOT the Person I Hired