Not All Reference Checks Say Good Things – 54% Have Received Bad References

I was recently facilitating our, You’re NOT The Person I Hired, workshop with CEOs and key executives. As is often the case, the subject of reference checking came up. Most in the audience tended to agree that checking references is a waste of time. After all, candidates only give references they are sure will say positive things about them. Don’t you agree?

Then a CFO sitting in the back raised his hand to disagree. He told the story of a controller he was about to hire near the border in Texas. This was a difficult position to fill as there were a lot of specific requirements. Finally, after an arduous search he found his person. She had all of the qualifications and most importantly he really like her. The final step was to conduct a few reference checks. She handed him a list of 30 references. WOW he thought, this person really has a lot of people willing to vouch for her.  Then he picked 5 of them and started calling. The first call was to a former boss. He introduced himself and explained that he was calling to conduct a reference check on Mary. The line went silent. The pause was so long that he thought they were disconnected and asked if the reference was still on the line. The reference replied yes and then stated, “Mary gave me as reference? I can’t believe it. We fired her because she stole from us. She did pay us back but she stole from us.” Now there was silence from him. He didn’t know what to say or how to respond.

This is just one of many examples of what can happen on a reference check and why you should always perform your due diligence. Granted, this may only happen once in your career, but in this case the once may have saved the company thousands if she has stolen again.

I have conducted thousands of reference checks in my 30 year career as an executive recruiter. I have learned that more often than not someone will give me a reference they expect to be positive and it turns negative. It is for this reason that I always check references. Like the CFO in this example, it has saved me from making some big mistakes. It only takes one bad reference to realize that catching that one person was worth all the others.

If you have stories or experiences regarding strange things that have happened when you have conducted a reference check I would love to hear about them and share them with others. Please take a moment to tell others your story.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn in which 54% replied that they have had people give them a negative reference. This goes to show that even though the person giving the reference expects a positive reference they often don't get one

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

 

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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Protect Your Reputation When Letting Employees Go

Most have heard that hiring is a PR event. You should make sure that, whether you hire the person or not, they leave your company wishing they got the job. That way, they will speak highly of your company to others that might want to work there. This is especially true in small industries and communities where everybody knows everybody else.

The last thing you want is people telling future potential employees how bad the company or hiring manager was when they interviewed and that they would never work for that hiring manager or company.

Not good PR if you plan on attracting top talent to your company. In fact, a great way to ensure top talent will work for your competitors.

I don’t think some (not all) companies or managers recognize the same principles apply when laying people off or even firing them.

Well they do, and I can  demonstrate this, because I recently encountered bad PR. Twice.

First example

I was recruiting for a Regional Director of Sales in the upper northeast. Because of the weather, it isn’t easy to relocate people there.  The company was in a very niche industry, and because it was a senior level sales job, industry experience was important.

It didn’t take long before trouble set in. Did I mention the reason for the opening was that the previous person was fired? Apparently, the manner in which the person’s boss fired him was at best inappropriate and at worst down right wrong and disrespectful.

The fired employee had spread the word about his treatment all around, stating what a jerk this person was to work for and how he badly he treated people. He also took the time to go into great detail about how he was fired. Now, what I heard when I tried to recruit people was, “I’m open to talking as long as it isn’t for X company working for X?” WOW, what a way to start a search in a small industry in a small geographical area.

This all happened because the VP didn’t see firing as a PR event. The best way to fire someone is to make them think you are doing them a favor, not by degrading them, surprising them, or throwing them out of the building. This VP took a bad situation (firing someone) and made it worse by the manner in which he did it. If the VP had done it correctly, he would have still reached his goal of letting the person go, but he also could have set himself up as a person that cares and people want to work for.

Second example

I live in Orange County, California. Most people think it is part of Los Angeles. It isn’t. For such a large area, it is actually its own community. Large enough to get lost, but small enough that people get to know people. There are so many networking groups that it is literally hard to plan an event because the first thing that comes up is, you know XYZ networking group meets then. At almost any time day and night, every day of the week, some group is getting together. Some groups have attendance in the hundreds and some have less. Regardless, there are a lot and this is how people get to know people in Orange County, California.

At a recent event I noticed a lot of people were saying, “Did you hear about ABC Company and how they did the RIF?”  RIF stands for reduction in force, or in plain English laid people off.  This was the buzz while people were standing around talking before the meeting started. Apparently, some of the people that got laid off were at the meeting and telling horror stories about how the company treated the employees they let go. Many of whom had been with the company for some time.

How many other meetings do you think these people attended in the next week and started telling the same stories? Not to mention all the people at the first meeting perpetuating the stories to their network, colleagues, friends and family. We used to say, this is how rumors start. Now we say this story is going viral. It won’t be long before this company’s reputation precedes them. When the economy shifts, and they need to hire people, it will not be easy.

All because they didn’t think of letting people go as a PR event. An event that impacts the company’s reputation and how it is viewed in its industry and community.

If you found this helpful, please forward it on to others so they will be helped. You can email it to your team, forward it to your network, post on Linkedin or company Web site. Let's help everyone build teams of top talent.

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

 

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

 

What Have You Done to Develop Your Team?

Are you developing a team of motivated, engaged, happy, satisfied, and stimulated direct reports?

Lack of training, development, and growth is one of the primary reasons your best talent might walk out the door on you sooner than you think!

Last week I presented to a group of CEOs who were shocked that I was suggesting they spend any time with their direct reports talking about development, training, engagement, satisfaction, intellectual stimulation, desires, hopes, and dreams. They considered that “HR Talk” and felt it would be “below” them to have to engage in a “career aspiration-type” dialogue.

I can guarantee that these CEOs are in for a rude surprise in the near future when some of the talent they depend on most – start to leave. Once a few start to leave, the rest fall like dominos, and word gets out on the street that your company (YOU)  does not develop, groom, and prepare people for bigger challenges.

 

What Does Top Talent Expect?

Are you focused on developing your team – is this idea constantly bubbling up into your thoughts, OR are you praying that since everyone shows up for work everyday, they must enjoy their job? Don’t be lulled to sleep by false impressions.

Contrary to popular opinion, just showing up does not mean contented cows, engaged employees, and satisfaction levels that are the envy of your competitors.

Top talent expects to be continuously trained. They expect to be given challenging assignments that stretch them to the next level. They want to come to work to be stimulated, intellectually turned on, pushed to excel, and forced to do their very best work to high standards.

When they are not being trained, developed, and given projects that add to their skill and knowledge level, they’ll start taking calls about other job opportunities from their friends, former business associates, and recruiters. Worst case, they’ll proactively go on-line to the major job boards and start seeking out opportunities.

 

The LIB Curve of Employee Motivation

My partner, Brad Remillard, wrote a job post, which you might title “Those Darn Recruiters”. Many companies try to impose elaborate schemes and security measures to prevent recruiters from talking to their employees. Unfortunately, Brad and I have never been able to recruit a candidate who was happy and content in their current job.

You know that a large part of being happy and content is being trained, developed, and challenged with higher level work. This is really basic Abraham Maslow concepts from decades ago. What’s surprising to me – is that most companies and executives VIOLATE on a daily basis the basic concepts of employee satisfaction, engagement, and happiness (Maslow termed a big part of that satisfaction: Self-Actualization).

If you’ve seen Brad or I present our workshop titled either “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” or “You’re the Person I want to KEEP”, then you know we use a model of employee satisfaction called the LIB Curve – which is a variation of Maslow's Self-Actualization. Feel free to check out some of our previous articles on the LIB Curve of Employee Motivation.

Basic Common Sense in Generating Smiles

Do You Inspire Others to Self-Motivate?

Why You Should Measure Self-Motivation

Here’s the key question: Do you know where every single one of your direct reports sits on the LIB curve? Are they at +8, –12, or flat-lined? If you don’t know where each one sits and where they want to be, perhaps it’s time to put your “career mentor” hat on and have a serious heart-to-heart with your direct report about their current and desired level of learning, impact, and becoming something better (LIB).

OR would it be better to wait until they come into your office and tell you they are planning on giving their 2 week notice?

When you walk in the office tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’ll start doing to develop your team?

Barry Deutsch

P.S. Download our Internet Radio Show Podcast on Non-Monetary Reward and Recognition where we discuss the internal processes required to inspire your staff to self-motivate, to engage and stimulate your top talent, and to retain your best performers.