Getting The Right Employees

Friday, 22nd February, 2013 

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                        GETTING THE RIGHT EMPLOYEES



According to a recent Gallup poll, thirty percent or less than one-third of American workers describe themselves as “engaged” in their jobs and committed to their employers. A larger number, 54% percent, describe themselves as “disengaged” at work and not committed to their employers. These employees report feeling trapped in dull jobs and admit that they spend significant amounts of time researching alternative jobs. The final 16% define themselves as actively disengaged, often becoming organizational terrorists who intentionally sabotage other employee’s morale.

A recent University of Minnesota study of 1532 newly hired exempt employees holding positions in administration, engineering, IT, marketing and service job categories reveals that “engaged” employees differ from “disengaged” employees from their first day of hiring. From early on, disengaged employees don’t emotionally commit to the organization into which they’ve been hired.
Significant reasons for this stem from the applicant’s work orientation and the fact that these new hires don’t feel that they align with their co-workers’ values or the workplace culture and don’t feel that they receive sufficient coworker approval. During the course of the 20 month study, 98 of the disengaged employees quit their jobs. Clearly, employers that want committed, productive, long-term employees need effective strategies for hiring the employees that both fit into the work group and can emotionally commit to a job and the employer.

Although employers need to ascertain these subjective issues when making hiring decisions, they also need to avoid unintentionally discriminating against applicants in protected categories. In Alaska, legally protected categories include race, color, age, sex, national origin, religion, disabilities, parenthood, pregnancy and marital status or changes in marital status.
Employers can best balance the twin challenges of avoiding illegal discrimination while ferreting out job fit and commitment problems with a several stage hiring process. We recommend that our clients initially email applicants fifteen to thirty questions aimed at job fit, motivation and job satisfaction. Not only does an email questionnaire screen in or weed out great or poor applicants, the email questionnaire process also saves our employers time and effort by avoiding in-person interviews with applicants whose written responses show problems and applicants who lack sufficient work ethic and job-interest to respond to the email questionnaire.

Samples email questions include:
1. What puts you in the job market?
2. What did you like most in your last (or current) job?
3. What did you like least?
4. If you were offered two jobs, what are the factors that would lead you to choose one job over the other?
5. What qualities do you hope to see/hope not to see in a supervisor:
6. What’s your experience with working in a fast- paced environment? With working under pressure?
7. When we ask them, what will your former supervisors say when describing you?
8. it an “A-“ or a “B+” job?
9. Please describe your work ethic:
10. What attracts you to this job?
11. What are your Achilles heels or downsides in a work sense?
12. What salary is too low?

In follow-up in-person interviews, we recommend asking applicants to take the interviewer on a guided tour of their resume, starting four jobs back. This process helps prospective employers gain a sense of what the applicants wants in a next job and also gives them a sense of how the applicant reacts in job situations, revealing applicants who blame past supervisors or co-workers for “making them” leave jobs in preference to taking responsibility for their own part in problems.

Next, employees who interview wonderfully yet fail to live up to their promises generally fall into one of three categories – those not well-matched to a job; those who lie well and those who don’t know themselves well and so present a falsely positive picture of their skills and qualities. While interviewing often helps you decipher applicants who fall into the first category, only thorough reference checking helps you avoid the second two categories of poor hires.

Effective reference checking depends on your ability to get through to those who have the information you need. If an applicant offers you references from personal friends or coworkers rather than supervisory references, consider this a red flag. If you plan to supervise this employee and want the real scoop, you need to interview your prospective applicant’s past two or three supervisors.
Once you get the supervisor on the phone, ask questions that go beneath the surface.

You can ask questions such as:
“How does this employee relate to her supervisor?”
“How does this employee handle conflict situations?”
“What types of work situations de-motivate this employee?”
“Tell me about this employee ‘chatting’ with coworkers.”

If you reach a supervisor who won’t talk or says company policies prohibit giving reference information, say ““Okay, there’s one interesting question that isn’t about the applicant but more about the supervisor” and then pause. I’ve never had a situation in which the supervisor didn’t say, “So, what’s the question?”

Then ask, “What type of supervisor would be the best match for this employee?” This question gleans answers such as “someone who doesn’t try to supervise,” “I know I’ve never met the person who might be right” and “Mother Theresa.”

If even that question fails to get the supervisor talking, ask if you can fax a waiver signed by the applicant to the former supervisor or personnel office. By signing a waiver, the applicant authorizes former employers to say whatever they want and “releases all persons, firms, agencies or companies from any damages resulting from furnishing such information.”

Do you want to hire the right employee? Start with email questions, follow-up with probing in person questions and detailed reference checks. The gain – You find an engaged, committed employee that cares enough about your job to work hard and succeed. .

The article’s author, Dr. Lynne Curry, runs a Alaska-based management consulting firm with 3600 clients in 14 states and 3 countries. Her company specializes in management training, coaching, Mediation, Facilitation and provides HR On-call services to clients. For details, check out or call us at 907-276-4769.

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Great information!

Sunday, 24th February, 2013 3:39 PM

Great questions, thanks!

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, 27th February, 2013 4:34 PM

Thanks for the great information. Really appreciate these informative posts.

Thursday, 7th March, 2013 6:54 PM

Thanks, we love giving information that might help. Please let us know topics on which you want us to write. Lynne

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