Archive for March 2014

4 Key Benefits of Using Pre-Hire Assessments in Your Organization

March 26, 2014

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”                                    

– Jim Collins, author, Good to Great

Assessments are valuable tools that provide insights into candidates for managers, especially when used in the pre-hiring process. Pre-hire assessments can determine how an individual will fit in a specific job, identify their thinking and reasoning styles, and highlight relevant behavioral traits. The job market is showing signs of life, with a few key sectors fueling the growth. These include manufacturing, retail, healthcare, leisure and hospitality, and professional services. With so many people applying for jobs who are either out of work, underemployed, or looking to switch employers, hiring managers have their work cut out for them to make the best hire possible. When filling an open position (whether hiring someone new or promoting from within) you want to select the person who is the best fit for the job and team with the right skill set who can be effective and productive the fastest. To assist in that process, managers can use assessment results to:

  • Match employees to the work culture
  • Look beyond the résumé
  • Place employees in appropriate jobs
  • Create “fact patterns” for people in similar positions for future hiring practices

1. Cultural and behavioral fit. Knowing your organization’s work culture, as well as your own department or team, is an important aspect of making successful hires. If they strive for innovative ideas and productive employees, balancing among their employees is in managers’ best interests. However, certain personalities and behavior styles will not be productive together. Managers can use assessments to determine what unique traits new hires bring to the team, and where differences in individuals may cause conflict. A skillful prospect could be tempting, but if they won’t gel with their co-workers, you risk a lack of cohesion (and thus wasted productivity) and possibly sabotaging the entire group. When hiring new employees it is important to choose someone who will easily mesh with existing team members. Pre-hire assessments can help managers hire the best fit for the group and the position.

2. Look beyond the résumé. Research has shown that the majority of résumés are not as accurate as one would hope. The market is extremely competitive, and those in the job hunt are trying to find advantages wherever possible. Assessments can help hiring managers look beyond the résumé, and discover deeper traits of each interviewee. A shining résumé can often mask someone who is not an adequate fit for the job or the team. Assessments can uncover the person behind the résumé to give managers a clearer picture of each potential employee.

3. Match skills and behaviors to your open positions. Managers have a tendency to hire people similar to themselves, or become enamored with a particular type of person. However, this is not always the best option for the team. Using employee assessments can help managers determine who has the knowledge, skills, and natural inclinations for a position. To put it another way, a baseball team doesn’t need 3 starting first basemen nor do most bands need more than one drummer. Objectively assess your needs and the skills necessary to perform the job, and hire for them. If you keep hiring the same type of person, you could end up with a team of first basemen who can’t adequately fulfill the other roles on the team.

4. Establish patterns of success. A final benefit of using pre-hire employee assessments is the ability to create “fact patterns” or “performance models.” Assessments can be used to chart who has been successful in each position and identify common traits related to their success. Building a performance model involves using the results of previous top performers to create a model of where future applicants should fit if they are going to be successful at the job. Specific positions require certain innate skills and behaviors. Performance models can make those attributes more obvious to hiring managers and help to set a standard for future employees seeking that job. The available talent pool is plentiful and extremely diverse. This is cause for businesses to reconstruct their hiring practices. Using advanced tools, such as pre-hire assessments, can easily distinguish who has a true aptitude for the open position, and who will fit with the team. Assessments enhance the hiring process by adding quantitative data to a typically unquantifiable practice. Every hiring manager should strive to match prospective employees to the culture of the company, place them in appropriate positions, and use fact patterns to predict future success. Assessments are helpful in the pre-hire phase, and offer the opportunity to continually simplify hiring practices.


Catch a Falling Star: How to Save a Flailing Sales Rep

March 2, 2014

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them,

but by building a fire within.”

                                                                        – Bob Nelson

So you hired a new sales rep. He seemed highly qualified: great resume, very personable, relevant work experience, and he nailed the interview. But, months have passed since he was hired, and he just isn’t delivering the numbers. What’s going on? Is it time to let him go?

The costs associated with hiring and training a replacement sales rep are daunting, and depend on a variety of factors, like start date (both how quickly a new rep can start and at what time during the quarter or year they start), sales experience, and training and cultural assimilation, not to mention the specific factors that go into making an effective sales rep.

There is a third option. Can the rep be coached? No matter how you break it down, it’s clearly more expensive, time consuming, and risky to bring in a new rep, which is why most sales managers would prefer to invest in the reps they have, if given the choice. Recent research from CSO Insights’ sales survey shows that coaching sales reps is the number one key to helping them rev up their sales. So, a greater emphasis on coaching is a necessity that will help your new sales hires become fully productive faster and more efficiently.

So, how do you go about effectively coaching an underperformer? Here are three fundamental steps sales managers must take to coach and develop underperforming sales reps:

1. Assess.
Before you begin coaching, you need to know and understand the individual as best you can. You need to know their specific strengths and weaknesses, skills and attributes, and personality and behavioral traits. Most of this information isn’t found in a single job interview or resume. To fully understand them, you need to assess them! The Profiles Sales Assessment specifically measures how well a person fits sales jobs, and includes seven critical sales behaviors: prospecting, call reluctance, closing the sale, self-starting, working with a team, building and maintaining relationships, and compensation preference.

2. Compare with top performers.
After the underperformer takes an assessment, then you can compare their results to those of a top performer. In doing this, you will be able to see the areas where the individual is struggling. The differences will show where the underperformer needs to improve to succeed.

3. Train and develop.
Once you know the areas in which the individual is struggling, you can give them appropriate sales training designed to improve those traits or behaviors. Let’s say an individual scored lower in the area of assertiveness. The sales manager can cater training to specifically improve the sales rep’s ability to not take “no” for an answer.

It is also critically important that the sales manager fully invest in the training process on a personal level, and not merely manage the numbers. “Unless the direct supervisor is perceived as owning that coaching, the coaching is likely to have relatively minimal impact,” says Brent Adamson, senior director of the Corporate Executive Board. “At the end of the day, people don’t leave bad companies. They leave bad managers.”