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

Posted March 26, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Selection, Talent Management

“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

Posted March 2, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Talent Management

“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?

Posted January 28, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Talent Management

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.

Protected: Coaching Your Team to Reach Their Maximum Potential

Posted December 17, 2013 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Leadership Development, Talent Management

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Effective Hiring in the 21st Century

Posted October 22, 2013 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Talent Management

                                                            by Garrett Muston

When I think about effective hiring and what it means today, I can’t help but think about old hiring processes and how much has changed.

It reminds me of a time in the mid-2000s when I was job searching, by no motivation of my own, and my father would get upset with me if I wasn’t visiting potential employers by eight o’clock in the morning. He instructed me to introduce myself to the manager and ask for an application, which I would fill out and return on the same day. After a few days of following my father’s guidance, I was left with virtually no applications and had wasted much of my time. About nine out of ten businesses I visited informed me that I had to apply online, and sent me away empty-handed.

My father didn’t realize that the days of paper applications are gone, and the effective hiring practices of his generation are no longer valid.

Fast-forward to 2013 – by now the digitization of the job market is common knowledge. We have established that the application process has changed, but that isn’t the only aspect of hiring that has evolved.

Candidates are researching your company.
Remember the “Now Hiring” signs? They aren’t as commonly seen as they once were, and there’s a good reason why. With nearly one-fourth of the world’s population on social media, websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have become a critical asset for recruiting job prospects. However, it’s important to be aware that candidates are looking for you too, so make yourself available and give a good impression. Every manager wants to attract great talent, but when your ideal candidate has thousands of options just a “click” away, you have to stand out.

For many candidates, the first impression of your company is received through some form of social media. What impression is your company sending?

It’s hard work keeping your social media audience engaged, but it pays in talent. The candidates who visit your social media pages are looking for a representation of your company culture, and what they can expect from employment with you. A good starting point might include a highlight of the best reasons to work for you and a creative, entertaining video about your company. Most importantly, develop a personality to represent your organization and ensure that it is equally displayed throughout job listings, social media, the company website, and any other web content your business publishes. Personality sets you apart, and it plays a major role in the impression you present to the 1.7 billion social networking users around the world.

Candidates want to feel valued.
As an employer, you may be sifting through hundreds of resumes each week, but when you’ve chosen a few distinguished applicants for interviews, it’s important to let them know that their accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed.

Candidates want to know they are valued, but you don’t necessarily have to put your money where your mouth is. A recent study suggests that workers value the opportunity for growth, status and recognition much more than a higher salary. According to Gallup’s engagement research, while employees have basic salary needs that must be met, there is no correlation between engagement and pay level. Employees want their egos stroked, and by showing the interviewee that you are willing to do that, you are indicating that they will be valued and recognized for their work at your company.

In addition to giving the interviewee praise, it’s necessary to let them know what your company has to offer its employees. If you offer great benefits or bonuses, highlight the value of these programs. Don’t sell yourself short. Mention all the perks – no matter how big or small – because you never know what may appeal to a candidate. Some perks may be more important than you think. For example, many employers restrict online freedom at the workplace, but according to Cisco’s second Connected World Technology Report, 45% of young professionals would accept a lower-paying job for more access to social media, more choice in the devices they use at work, and more flexibility in working remotely. Another modern perk employers are offering is a company phone, which is usually the latest and greatest smartphone. Access to technology in the 21st century work place has become a deciding factor for many candidates in their job choice, so perks that fall into this category should be in the spotlight.  Other common perks include free lunches, casual dress codes, and international work opportunities.

Company culture is key.
Engagement shouldn’t stop at the application. You’ve attracted top talent to apply for your job opening, and you just finished interviewing a rock star candidate that you can’t let get away. It’s likely that there is tough competition eager to have him or her on their payroll, so how can you compete? Company culture.

After the interview, take your top contender for a tour of the work place. As you tour, you should be introducing the candidate to your most experienced employees, mentioning their role in the company and a few of their accomplishments. Top performers typically thrive in competitive environments, and are eager to expand upon their skills through the mentorship of other accomplished professionals.

Don’t forget to explain any traditions your company has, including yearly events and social gatherings, and give a brief history of the company. Make sure that the candidate has a good idea of what they can expect for a work/life balance for the job position, and how they will fit into the big picture with the company. Talk about the steps your company is taking to remain “cutting edge” and modern in regards to the latest technologies and trends, including any remote working opportunities, flex time and technological tools available for use in the work place. Additionally, one of the most important aspects of a company’s culture is the cohesiveness of the team and how they function. Let the candidate know how they will mesh into the office “family.” They want to be part of something bigger than a nine to five time card.

Familiarizing a special candidate with the company culture can give them a sense of involvement and help them picture themselves as a part of your team. These factors are often unknown until employment has begun, so taking these steps post-interview is a great advantage in securing your candidate.

While some general hiring principles remain largely unchanged in the 21st century, the tools and processes involved in hiring have drastically evolved, and so have candidates’ needs. If your company is still handing out paper applications and relying on walk-in talent, it’s time to re-evaluate your talent acquisition tactics, build your online presence, and allow your company culture to evolve through technology.

A Fool-Proof Formula to Secure your Superstar Employees

Posted September 23, 2013 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Employee Recognition, Leadership Development, Talent Management

Tags: ,

                                                            by Aoife Gorey

We coach our clients, partners, and colleagues around the world on the importance of hiring right the first time.  Hiring the right person for the right job is inevitably the best way to reduce employee turnover.  Using employee assessments, talent management systems, and conducting background checks and interviews all come into play.  But, once you have secured your ideal candidate, how do you keep them?

Many factors affect employee satisfaction.  We can’t all offer unique and unusual employee perks like Google and Facebook, but we can still take a forward approach to keeping our people happy and attracting superstar candidates.

1. Evaluate your leadership
Measure employee turnover by manager; this can pinpoint a real problem.  Poor managers may cancel out all the positive effects that having an outstanding team may create.  If you identify problems with managers, help them.  Use leadership development tools to discover their individual leadership style and the dynamic of their team as a whole.  Effective management is the key to employee retention.

2. Recognize great performance
We are all motivated differently, but everyone loves to receive a compliment and credit for a job well done.  Give your managers the responsibility of creating awards for excellent performance.  Examples of employee recognition include: thank you notes, employee of the month awards, newsletter recognition, etc.  Here at Profiles, we award our employee of the month a cash bonus, extra casual clothes days, and their name on a banner facing the main street of our home office!  Thousands of people that pass by every day see their name on our mini- billboard!  Make sure you also recognize employees on a weekly basis, those that are working extremely hard but not necessarily employee-of-the-month level.  On an employee level, I always try to praise my coworkers and inform my boss when they do a great job on a project.  To me, the opinions of my colleagues are just as important!

3. Create an atmosphere of continuous self-improvement
For many people, each job acts as a stepping stone and learning experience to get to the next level of their career and achieve their personal goals.  Job candidates and employees want the opportunity to develop and to continually polish their skills, abilities, and experience.  Invest heavily in training and employee development, and encourage employees to take advantage of the programs offered.  Prove to your employees that there is no reason to leave when they can receive training from within the organization.  Here at Profiles, when I attended a new employee onboarding session, we were introduced to all the company executives.  Our president, Al Rainaldi told me, “Always be looking for ways to improve yourself so that you can be more effective on the job.  If there is a training program that you think would benefit you and your colleagues, bring it to the attention of your direct manager.”

4. Match people to jobs
Don’t hire just to fill a position, hire someone that is suited to be successful in the job you need filled!  Ensure people are matched to their jobs in terms of their abilities, interests, and personalities.  When people are placed in positions where job demand and abilities match, where job stimulation and interest match, and where cultural demands and personalities match, turnover decreases and productivity increases.

Organizations can use employee assessments to determine the requirement of each position.  Attracting and retaining the highest quality people takes time, money, and effort.  Applying the steps above can help you secure your own team of superstar employees.

Friday Feeling or Friday Fear? Reduce Workplace Stress Every Day

Posted August 23, 2013 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Stress Management

                                       by Aoife Gorey

Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish.  Too little produces a bland, dull meal;  too much may choke you.”

                                                                                                                        Donald Tubesing

Oh, Friday! Happy Friday! The weekend is so close you can taste it! Just thinking of sleeping late and time with friends brings a smile to my face. Suddenly, my enthusiasm is put on hold as I remember the long checklist of to-do’s I have before the weekend break. We’re always so busy here at Profiles that normally Friday is here before I know it!

Let’s face it: work is stressful, life is stressful. I’m not a naturally organized person, but in business I like to be (and need to be!). When my checklist isn’t marked off each day, I get a little stressed. There are so many external factors that can contribute to one’s stress level; when an employee is stressed or worried from personal issues, work may be the last thing on their mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there that can leave their issues at the door when they arrive at work – some that rise to the occasion – but there are also those that cringe with fear, become upset, and avoid the situation completely. We’re only human! Employees who experience frequent, high levels of stress have lower productivity levels and quality of output, and in turn, can end up costing your company more in missed days and high turnover.

Making an informed decision to create a stress free environment for your team can seriously pay off. Ignoring this is just like adding lighter fluid to a fire. Whether you are an executive, manager, or team member, you can have an impact on the stress level of your co-workers.

Here are some ways you can reduce workplace stress every day of the week:

1. Decorate!
You may not work in amazing offices like Google or Facebook (or have the budget), but you can still create a fun and relaxed environment. Let your employees create their own personal atmosphere. What is the harm of having a few plants or pictures?

Employee: If you wish, bring personal items to the office; pictures of your kids, significant other, or favorite artwork. Hang up any awards you have received. If the lighting hurts your eyes, check with your manager to see if you can bring in a lamp that is a little gentler on your eyes.

What I do: I live almost 5,000 miles from home, so I have a ton of family pictures in my office, and I have a “The Most Awesome-ist” award some co-workers gave me hanging on my wall. You spend so much time at work, you NEED to feel comfortable.

2. Don’t forget team building!
: Set up a sports team, bowling team, discounted gym membership, or book club and make it for employees only. Give a small budget to each group to encourage attendance.  By letting employees meet and socialize in settings that don’t require them to work on stressful projects together, they can create trusting work relationships that will help them when it counts the most.

Employee: If management isn’t taking these steps, take it upon yourself! Reach out to your department and others to measure any interest. To avoid any conflict, use your personal email and email after work hours.

What I do: We have so many employees here at Profiles, and lots of departments do different things. Here in Marketing, we will play Pictionary for 30 minutes to chill out, or grab lunch
together. Sales recently had a BBQ for lunch at the office to congratulate their team on a great quarter. The whole company was recently invited to a local water park for a family afternoon out.

3. Use your manners!
Always thank employees for their hard work. You’d be surprised how much a simple compliment can do for morale. Don’t just thank them in private either; thank them in front of the group in your next department meeting.

Employee: This rule applies to you, too. Most employees work closely with other team members in some shape or form. If you finish a project with a co-worker, thank them for their contribution.

What I do: I try to live by the above suggestions. Another tip is if a co-worker has done a great job working with me on a project, I’ll email our VP directly to let him know. Or, I bring breakfast! A few dollars at Shipley’s or a homemade breakfast casserole goes along way, especially if your team is stressed with deadlines.

4. Communicate!
: Get insight into how and why your employees are experiencing stress. Stress and employee conflict often arise from a misalignment of company perspectives and abilities required to perform specific job functions.

Employees: Talk to your boss. That’s what he or she is there for. If you’re overwhelmed at work, instead of missing deadlines, be realistic and let him or her know what’s going on.