Archive for the ‘Talent Management’ category

Onboarding at Disney: When the Magic Happens

February 20, 2015

“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” 

                                    – Steve Jobs

Jeff Noel, a facilitator at Disney Institute, spoke in a video about being “The CEO of You,” in which he shared insight on how to inspire leadership at all levels. Noel’s major point of focus was the differentiation between task and purpose. “To empower all employees to take on leadership roles, it is important that everyone understands the larger purpose behind a task. Employees should be immersed in the broader context of a project so they clearly can identify the importance of their role and how it impacts the organization.” The only way to start an employee on the right path to next generation leadership, then, is extensive, comprehensive onboarding. I read recently about Facebook’s Onboarding Bootcamp, where technical engineers are treated to a six-week, full immersion onboarding process. Full immersion during the onboarding process is the only way to guarantee a new employee will know his or her role in an organization. This is what Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager of Disney Institute, says about onboarding a new hire into Disney: “A new hire will make many judgments about an organization based on their first few days; therefore, onboarding training is crucial for both the employee and the company. This training should go beyond ‘how-to’ training into the ‘why’ of an organization. By sharing the organization’s history and values, new hires will be more empowered to embody the spirit of the company and feel more fulfilled. At Disney, our new-hire orientation is called ‘Traditions,’ and introduces our Cast Members to not only important information they need to know about their new role, but also the legacy and history that remains at the heart of The Walt Disney Company.” James goes on to say, “Training should not be seen as optional; rather, it should be operationalized and embedded into the fabric of your organization.” He says that, when developing an onboarding program, you should ask yourself these three questions: 1. What cultural values will be established during this training experience? 2. Based on this training experience, what room will be left for improvisation by employees? 3. How will this training reflect care for employees? On the first day of work, new employees attend Disney Traditions. With a focus on the past, present, and future of Disney, Disney Traditions help new hires recognize and appreciate the connections they have to the Disney story, their daily impact on the quality of the Disney Show, and the role they can play in the company’s growth and success. But that’s just the orientation. The onboarding process continues much longer past the initial “Traditions” program, and the leadership at Disney set the example for its employees. In his book, “The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney,” J. Jeff Kober says: “When it comes to creating priorities, it’s about the individual leader. Leaders really do matter. They matter most when they take the reins, when they pick up trash, when they are involved. An operation is no better than its immediate leadership. Leadership for me is many things, but one of the most important is modeling what you want others to do. If you pick up trash, everyone will pick up trash. If you show courtesy to your employees, your employees will be friendlier to your customers. If you take the time to have a little fun, your employees will make it fun for others.” Every employee collects trash; whether manning the rides or playing the part of Disney princess. Walt Disney said, when the parks first opened, that he wanted to keep the park clean to the point that people would be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground. That standard has been reached because of the example leadership has set, and the training each employee receives during onboarding. By setting the example, leaders continue to mentor and influence their employees, throughout their career. In addition to the three questions listed above, use this checklist compiled by contributors at to better identify potential leadership candidates: • Works well on a team and with other team members; brings out the best in others • Is inclusive of others’ ideas and personalities • Responds well to feedback • Is able to learn from and listen to others • Is willing to teach others • Is solution-oriented and creates opportunities out of challenges • Able to solve customer issues and complaints (within their role), proactively seeking out situations           where the problem may not be immediately evident • Seeks additional responsibilities while excelling at existing assignments • Is capable of working effectively in a multi-tasked environment • Finds themselves leading by example even when not assigned the title or direct responsibility; is someone others choose to follow

Many organizations believe leadership is a noun. However, because leadership is dependent on the action one takes rather than the position one holds, the folks at Disney Institute encourage everyone to view leadership as a verb. Therefore, despite job title, everyone should be the CEO of himself or herself (for more information about how Disney onboards and develops the next generation of leaders, check out their video here). In order for employees to become great leaders, they must know their role, actualize themselves, and acclimate to the company’s culture. The only way this can happen is through onboarding.


Slow and Steady Wins the (Talent Management) Race

January 13, 2015

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people.  At the end of the day you bet on people, not  strategies.”                                        – Lawrence Bossidy, former COO of GE

There are copious amounts of unemployed Americans out there – 10.2 million, to be exact.  Yet, 4 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S.  With so many people actively seeking jobs, why are there still so many unfilled positions? Certain industries and positions that require hard-to-find skills, like IT and engineering, can account for a portion of these unfilled jobs, but many others have a surplus of candidates to choose from.  Vacant positions can put a strain on organizations, as they try to do more work with less people.  Thus, one would think that employers would want to fill open positions as quickly as possible. However, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to purposefully take their time when going through the hiring process.  We’ve all been job-seekers before, so most of us are familiar with the frustration of lengthy interview processes, waiting to hear back from a potential employer, and rigorous onboarding programs.  In fact, positions remain vacant for an average of 23 business days – much longer than the 2009 average of 15 – and it’s not unheard of for a company to have interviews of nine rounds or more.

The reason: Organizations want to hire the right person, the first time.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link.

A team of the most talented workers in the industry can be rendered useless with the addition of one misfit.  When a weak link is added to the bunch, others have to take time from their own tasks to help them learn skills they should already possess, and often have to take on more work from underperforming coworkers.  Teams rely on each other to contribute to projects, and one underperformer can bring the office to a stand-still, holding up the entire team from meeting deadlines.  While the rest of your employees may do great things for your organization, the weak link can cause issues that undo the progress of other employees as well.  Essentially, you’ll be taking one step forward, and two steps back.  It may seem like employers have candidates jump through hoops to get a job, and it might be painstaking, but considering 43 percent of employers report that quick hiring decisions led to bad hires, it’s a necessary precaution to avoid adding a weak link

Company culture – one bad egg spoils the bunch.

Company culture continues to become a   factor in the workplace, by both employees and employers.  The culture of a workplace can significantly impact the productivity and morale of your talent, turnover rates, and revenue.  Knowing this, many organizations invest big money into remodels, trainings and meetings, perks, and consultants.  It can take years to build the right culture, and yet only one bad employee to tear it down.  When the culture of a company and the values and characteristics of a new hire don’t match up, things can go downhill in a hurry.  Your all-star employees who used to love coming to work now dread it, and it shows in their work.  There is gossiping around the office, frequent visits to your office to complain, and before you know it, things have gotten out of control.  Hiring for cultural fit might sound silly at first, but on closer examination, it becomes clear just how important it is in hiring decisions and the success of your organization.

No one wants to make a bad investment.

Employees are a business’s most important asset, and are significant investments that come with them, including training, time, screening, wages, travel costs, onboarding, benefits, relocation costs, and more.  If you make a bad hiring decision, you can add “unemployment compensation” to the list, along with the cost of recruiting and hiring a qualified replacement. Investments are time sensitive, as the up-front costs they require are recuperated with additional gains over a period of time.  However, when a bad employee investment is made, the employee often leaves before the costs have been recovered, or they don’t possess the skills to give a return on investment over any amount of time.  As a result, the employer is out of a lot of money.  To put things into perspective, a recent survey reported that 27 percent of employers have lost $50,000 or more per bad hire they made.  That’s why Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh, offers new hires a $2,000 bonus to quit after only one week on the job.  Sound crazy?  Maybe, but it’s much less costly to weed-out job-hoppers and the uncommitted before investing more into them.  The sooner you can identify a bad investment and cut your losses, the better.  Making a bad hire may be unavoidable every now and then, but the more selective you are, and the more time you take to hire, the more likely you are to avoid hiring mistakes. While there may be plenty of unfilled jobs out there, and even more job-seekers, employers aren’t willing to hire the first person that comes for an interview, and it’s easy to see why.  Sure, it may seem inconsiderate to encourage slow hiring with so many unemployed Americans seeking jobs, but putting a person in a job role that they aren’t capable of fulfilling will only make things worse for both the employer and the worker.  Besides, wouldn’t you rather work in a position where you’d be successful with a company culture you’d enjoy? Next time you go to a job interview and you start to get frustrated by lengthy, headache-inducing processes, remember that what may seem like an inconvenience is actually in our best interest, as well as the employer’s.

Why You Should Establish Job Fit

September 30, 2014

Did you know that employees who are well matched to their jobs are 2.5 times more productive in their work? Studies show that proper job fit improves engagement and job satisfaction, resulting in increased productivity, while negative factors such as job-related stress, tension, workplace conflict, and costly employee turnover diminish.

Organizations with a philosophy of matching people to jobs can get a leg-up on their competition. Having followed 360,000 people through their careers during a period of 20 years, a major study published by Harvard Business Review demonstrated that a key ingredient in retaining people is ensuring that they are matched to their jobs in terms of their abilities, interests, and personalities.

The study found that when you put people in jobs where the demands matched their own abilities, where the stimulation offered by the work matched their particular interests, and where the cultural demands of the position matched their personalities, staff turnover decreased dramatically, and productivity increased drastically. So, how should organizations get started?

First, let’s look at some of the top reasons why employees fail:

• They were not a good match for the job

• They didn’t fit the company culture

• They didn’t fit the team in which they were working

Only about 10 percent of a person can be observed on the surface. Ninety percent of a person’s potential lies below the surface. This large percentage includes things like learning style, behavioral tendencies, and occupational interests.

According to Harvard Business Review, the “job matching” approach more accurately predicts job success than any of the commonly accepted factors, such as education, experience, or job training. Just because an individual was a high-performing sales person working for business X in California, does not mean that they will perform at the same level in a new role with business Y in Texas.

A common misconception about establishing job fit, and/or assessing employees, is that people can answer well or incorrectly. In fact, there is no right or wrong answers, or pass/fail results. It is simply about establishing how suitable a person is for a role, and predicting their level of performance on the job. Just as no single person is perfect, there is no perfect job match; that’s why the highest match scale is 95 percent.

2 Critical Questions to Ask for Effective Succession Planning

August 28, 2014

“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”

– Anne M. Mulcahy

Succession planning is often misunderstood or undervalued in the workplace. According to Talent Management magazine, about 70 percent of companies say they participate in some form of succession planning. However, 62 percent also report having too few candidates for organizational needs, and a third of organizations report no succession plan at all. These numbers are low relative to just how important succession planning is to an organization’s success.

Whether you’re a large corporation or small business, the economy is constantly changing and unpredictable. You never know when employees may leave or retire, leaving you with vacant job positions that are critical to your organization’s function. So, you need to be prepared! An effective succession plan benefits the organization and its employees in many ways, such as: identifying the current and future needs of the organization, identifying top performers and leaders, and assisting in employee development.

An article from Harvard Business Review suggests “changing the name from succession planning to succession development.” Effective succession planning helps organizations develop their internal talent in areas that will prepare them to succeed in higher-level and leadership positions. A great leader needs to be able to work effectively with people, and make successful transitions to higher levels of responsibility and accountability. Succession planning will identify the people who are capable of leadership, and identify the areas of development required to become successful.

The heart of succession planning is the evaluation of employees’ performance and potential. In doing this, you must ask these two questions:

1. How is the employee being perceived?
When evaluating and assessing employees, it’s important to know how they interact with others. Do they demonstrate leadership skills and confidence in the workplace? To gain this valuable information, it’s important to look at employees through the eyes of the coworkers and leaders with whom they interact on a day-to-day basis. That’s where surveys like the CheckPoint 360°™ can help. Three-sixty feedback tools evaluate a person’s leadership performance and potential with direct feedback from peers, supervisors, direct reports, and even customers or vendors.

2. What are the employee’s unique characteristics?
When looking at an employee’s performance and potential, you need to take into account what job positions and responsibilities will best fit them. To determine this, you need to know your employees’ behaviors, motivations, interests, and values. What makes them tick? Are they capable of working under more pressure? Will they be engaged by a role at a different level? How quickly can they assimilate into a new position. To gather this data objectively, you can use a total-person assessment. For example, the ProfileXT® measures over 20 characteristics, including behavioral tendencies, thinking and reasoning skills, aptitude, and interests. The assessment results indicate how strongly an employee matches different job positions, and identifies areas he or she needs to develop to become successful.

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.”

Are Disengaged Employees Costing You Money?

January 28, 2014

Are your employees excited to be at work today? Are they even happy? As wonderful as that would be, it’s unrealistic. Needless to say, most companies would be satisfied if their employees were simply engaged and productive. According to a recent Gallup poll on employee engagement, seven out of ten U.S. workers aren’t engaged in their work. Seventy percent, more than two-thirds of employees… Yikes! That’s a lot! What’s worse is how much disengagement can cost a business; according to Gallup, mentally checked-out employees cost organizations $450 – $550 billion (not million, billion!) in lost productivity every year.

Do you really want your business to resemble the above statistics?

So, what’s the problem? There can be many reasons for checked-out and unhappy employees. Factors include things like the economy, career development, corporate culture, benefits, professional growth, and management. Before you learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of checked-out team members, you need to ask yourself one very important question. Would you be happy if you were in their shoes? (I don’t mean their field of work relative to you personally, but for that person and their career.) Are they being paid fairly, are you helping them grow their career and achieve their personal and professional goals? Are they being recognized for their achievements?

First things first; you have to be able to spot dissatisfied and checked out employees before you can work on mending the situation. Here’s what to look for:

Little or no complaints – Don’t be fooled. Just because an employee has no complaints, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. While you don’t want a workforce of whiners, you want your employees to feel free to voice their concerns and complaints to you. No complaints could be a sign they’re afraid to rock the boat or they just don’t care anymore. Remind your employees you need to know about problems that affect their productivity at work and create an open, comfortable environment for them to do so.

Wasting time – An employee who spends hours on the Internet everyday may be an underperformer, or they may just not have enough to do. Make sure your employees have a balanced, fair workload that keeps them feeling challenged and useful. Just make sure not to overload anyone.

They’re not learning anything new –  Are your employees relying on the same skill sets they had when you hired them? Make sure they’re participating in some type of development opportunity to keep them feeling fresh and relevant. Employees need to be able to answer “What’s in it for me?” to be fully engaged at work.

No enthusiasm– Employees should find some enjoyment in what they do, even if it’s not the most exciting job. Let them know how important they are to your company, and try to find new challenges for them. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, said, “You have to really believe in what you are doing, be passionate enough about it so that you put in the hours and hard work that it takes…then you’ll be successful.”

Too much stress –Watch out for employees who seem to be overworking themselves trying to handle too many demands and not getting enough downtime. Talk about what you can do to relieve some of the strain, and be willing to be flexible with time tables and deadlines so you don’t lose a solid employee.

Even at an uncertain time in the economy, employees aren’t happy just having a job. Remember, every employee is motivated differently. Data derived from assessment tools can be a great way to find out what motivates individual employees and help you retain your best workers.