Employee Ghosting is a Real Thing…and It’s Our Fault (But here’s how to fix it)

Type the term “employee ghosting” into Google, and you’ll end up with 166,000 results, most of which take the angle that a phenomenon once reserved for the dating game has, somehow, snuck up on business and permeated our unsuspecting, open-plan offices like the stench of a rotting corpse.

In truth, employee ghosting has been going on for decades. It’s just been us that’s been doing it, and we never planned for the shoe to be on the other foot. However, it’s going to be okay. Cue Adele’s ‘Turning Tables’ and have a good cry because the first step to fixing the problem is acknowledging where the problem started. As HR professionals, we are reaping the harvest which our own seeds have sown, and it all comes down to one major element: Candidate Experience.

What went wrong

For years, employers have become spectres by ignoring the candidate experience and post-interview follow-up because the influx of qualified candidates outweighed the time and resources available to respond to every candidate. We held the balance of power in the job market, with high unemployment rates and generic processes which acted as the enabling force to leave potential employees hearing crickets but too afraid to jeopardize their chances by reaching out and touching base.

In 2018, we find ourselves in a job-seekers market. Unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in nearly two decades. The tides have shifted, and employee ghosting is a new reality that requires adaptation if we’re going to be able to deal with it successfully.

What to do now

The best thing employers can do to detect and prevent it is by establishing a connection early and fostering engagement and trust throughout the hiring process. In other words, provide an experience that makes a candidate think they aren’t just a number, but a human soul, full of worth and skill who has the potential to tie into your culture and drive it to a level you only dreamed it would reach.

It may seem like I’m waxing poetic here, but that’s exactly what employees want to feel about their potential in your company—the very place where they will spend most of their physical and mental energy every week. That is HR Humanity in action, and if we’re not designing programs and processes that support it, we are sorely missing the mark.

Candidate experience is important because it ties closely into an employer’s brand—and by extension—their culture. Good connections may not prevent the reputation-risking move of ghosting outright, but we know that if candidates feel there is an existing relationship they are more obligated to reach out and at least make a respectful exit, which allows us to move to Plan B.

We’re drastically missing depth in nearly every touchpoint a candidate has with us. Even the most basic candidate relationship systems can be personalized in a way which allows for successful transfer of an employer brand and offers an opportunity for truly uninterested candidates to deselect themselves from the process early. We use a nearly automated system that allows candidates to move through the process quickly, and by the time they reach an interview they’ve gone through a series of written, audial and visual touchpoints with us which has allowed them to provide their unique view for what they bring to the table, and reconcile it with our culture and working reality.

We’re interested in listening to what candidates have to say, as well as how and why they say it, and I can tell you the payback in loyalty and trust far outweighs the effort it took to develop a reliable system in the first place. Deepening the candidate experience strengthens the public face of your brand as an employer, is easy to modify as needs in the market change.

Measuring it

So, how do you know if an experience is working? There are so many metrics and ways of gathering data that not having the information is no longer an excuse. Whether you are using employee net promoter scores, or open surveys, social media chatter or just not having success filling a role, there is always a backstory that exists, not to be a burden, but to help you read between the lines and fix what’s broken. The candidate experience is a living thing; an ongoing involvement that morphs into a main indicator of engagement once a joins your team—and we are all responsible for how we turn this “new normal” into the opportunity to create a more inclusive, respectful and human hiring experience.

As we move into another Halloween let’s not shrink back as the ghosts of our old mistakes haunts us, but infuse it with the humanity it—and all future candidates deserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One Recruitment Mistake You’re Probably Making (And How to Fix It)

It’s been said that “Variety is the spice of life”. In business, this is true on a number of fronts, from investment to technology—but never does it ring truer than in the people we choose to surround ourselves with via our recruitment process.

Unfortunately, in the process of hiring, many business owners are inadvertently surrounding themselves with the wrong people which are halting business growth.

I’m speaking of course of the Halo effect—an effect so subtle, we may not even realize it’s taken hold—until we’ve made an expensive hiring mistake, that is.

In its simplest form, the Halo Effect occurs when we assume that because someone excels at (A), they will also be good at (B), and (C). During the selection process, our subconscious is making assumptions about a candidate that can be unduly influenced by the interactions we have. Take for example a hiring manager, who discovers they enjoy the same hobby as a candidate during interview pre-amble. Because, the hiring manager holds positive pre-conceived notions about that particular hobby, it influences how that candidate is assessed during all other aspects of the selection process, sometimes providing false positives where there are none. That hiring manager is being blinded by the glow of the halo, so to speak.

The halo effect can extend from any number of factors which hold a personal pre-conception for a hiring manager. The danger with the halo effect is not only that you may end up with the wrong candidate in the position, but you may end up hiring too many like-minded individuals, which can perpetuate the status quo and deprive your organization of the critical variety of personalities and thinking styles which are critical for business growth.

Luckily there are several easy-to-implement tools you can utilize to neutralize the halo effect, and we’ve rounded out the top five:

  1. Conduct a Preliminary Phase

Especially for small and medium-sized businesses who are time-crunched and resource deficient, traditional recruitment tends to follow some variation of the following: Place Ad, Review Applications, Conduct Interviews, Check References, Hire. The problem with this system is that often the first and only time you have personal contact with the candidate is during the interview process. To develop a whole candidate approach, consider developing a preliminary phase, whether that be a pre-screen phone interview, a specific set of tasks an applicant must complete to make it to the next round. The benefit of a preliminary phase is that it forces you to review different aspects of their abilities before a face-to-face meeting, which allows you to focus on the candidate’s overall abilities.

  1. Turn Your Thinking Upside Down

This one requires a bit of a shift in thinking, but if you meet a candidate who gives you an overall great impression, approach the interview with the mindset that you want them to prove that the impression matches the ability. Conversely, if the first impression is just lukewarm, adopt the mindset that you are committed to providing the benefit of the doubt. As you ask the same questions to each candidate you will find that your results tend to come out much more objective than getting carried away by emotion no matter what the first-impression.

  1. Adopt an Objective Scoring System

I cannot stress enough how much of a difference this will make to your organization. Asking the same main questions to each candidate and having an objective scoring system (like a five-point scale) rather than simply recording of their answers with a yes/no approach forces you to isolate the intent of the question, and focus on content rather than form.

At the end of the interview you will clearly see patterns that distinguish possible strengths from possible challenges, which brings us to the next point:

  1. Use Science to Your Advantage

The use of a personality assessment, job fit questionnaire or other metrical assessment will support the results of your interview impressions, and provide you the critical data about personality quirks that will either mesh with or create problems within your team. The more you practice this, the more you will discover that the scientific data will almost always uphold the interview impressions, with the added dynamic of assessing fit—which is a huge predictor of job success.

  1. Wait

Prevailing science says it takes approximately 30 seconds to form an impression, but that impression could change with a little time. With the rush of back to back interviews and short timelines to decide, we tend to rush our perceptions about candidates which otherwise might have become clearer with a little hindsight. Try to schedule some dedicated time after interviews to do at least 30 minutes of another activity before reviewing the candidates, which will provide enough space for a more objective recruitment result.

The Bottom Line

While these aren’t huge changes to implement, refining your recruitment process to eliminate bias, and the dreaded Halo Effect (whether conscious or not) will result in the selection of some more well-rounded candidates who can offer the essential variety of human capital your organization needs. In addition, you’ll likely find it will boost overall success and retention rates because after all, hiring is a two-way street. The time spent getting to know your candidates in the right way will  also allow potential employees to get a realistic feel for your business, which leads to both parties forming an informed relationship right out of the gate.

How about you? What strategies do you use that remove bias from your recrtuiment process?

4 Tips For Hiring Great People

Business Owners often say: It’s so hard to find good people…

Good People say: “It’s so hard to find good jobs”. So, where’s the disconnect coming from?

Just like your ideal customers are looking for companies that can help them solve their problems, your ideal job candidates are looking for the same thing. Only their problem is not about buying it’s about finding a great company to work for.

When thinking about hiring, always think in ideals. And I don’t say this because I live in fairy tale land but because thinking about ideals helps you to dream about what is possible. For something to be created, first, you have to be able to see it in your mind. In the case of hiring, get clear on the ideal candidate. Who is the absolutely perfect person for the role you want to fill?

Once you are clear on that person, now ask yourself – “what sort of company would that person be drawn to work for”. This can be hard to do because you need to put yourself in their shoes, not yours. There are going to be logical things like good pay, job security, close by etc – but I want you to think of the less tangible things such as the four below.

What is the quality of: Your Business, Your Vision, Your Culture, Your Leadership?

By quality of business I mean is there some level of professionalism and organisation or are you in chaos. Do you have some good customers and clarity on how you want to get more or are you dealing with deadbeats and whiners? Do you have some systems that ensure consistency or are you and your team winging it?

The quality of your vision is – do you know where you (the business) is going. Can you see it, does it excite and inspire you. If you are not excited and inspired, you can’t expect others to be.

The quality of your culture might be self-explanatory but it is about what it’s like to work in your business. How does your team interact and behave? Is it positive, challenging and supportive – or are complaining and gossip present … or perhaps somewhere in between.

Lastly, the quality of your leadership refers to how you view your people. How much do you care about them? How much do you invest in helping them grow? Leadership is a massive topic so we won’t aspire to cover it here, but essentially ‘what’s it like to work for you?’

With all these things, you don’t need to be perfect but you do need to recognise that you will only get the quality of people that you’re ready for. You will attract a quality of person that matches the identity of your business. And the identity of your business is largely made up from the four categories outlined.

Attracting great people is a journey. See the quality of the people you are attracting as a marker of your progress toward building a great business. Keep at it and have fun.

How to Hire Top Performing Sales People

If every there was a holy grail, this would be it. If only there was a way to consistently hire top performing sales people!!

Well I’d love to say I’ve got the silver bullet for you … but I think you’d know I’d be lying. What I have got though, are some juicy tips and tricks shared from recruiting veteran Kristen Harcourt. Kristen is a senior consultant with The McQuaig Institute. The McQuaig Institute are leaders in the field of profiling and assessments with respect to recruiting. While The McQuaig Institute can and do help companies assess a variety of roles, their grass roots and expertise is with sales people.

In this interview, Kristen shares with us the ‘tells’, tricks and tips on finding, filtering and identifying top performers. The whole interview is 37 minutes long and it is packed with gems to help you find the sales people you are looking for.

Enjoy the listen. Please share your thoughts and ideas on the content of the interview below, we’d love to hear your take.

And…if you want to take this podcast on the go and have a listen later, you can! Right click the link HERE and save it to your device.

 

How to Hire GREAT people

hiring great people – Long BUT massively value packed post.

 

Hiring is probably one of the most important areas for any business owner and while most may know that, it is usually a task that has the most disproportionate amount of time allocated to it. As owners we tend to focus on the things that give us more tangible immediate results like making sales, solving crises, responding to customers  etc. And if asked “how important are your people?” we answer with a resounding ‘critical’ yet for most of us, we don’t invest the necessary time to get the right people.

This post is going to outline all you need to know to get the right people on board. And I will preface that while what we’ve laid out below has worked many many times with consistently impressive results, the systems and processes YOU use, must be a match and fit for your company. I will give you the framework, you need to modify it to fit your needs.

Now, given the amount of time most of you are currently investing in hiring, what I outline below is going to seem like a lot of work so I need to get you into the right emotional head space so you can see the benefit of doing the work necessary. Consider the following questions:

  • If you had a system for hiring that gave you an 80% success rate and all you had to do was say ‘go’ to make that happen, how would that benefit your company?
  • If you had a team of sales people who continually perform to grow your company, what would that mean to you?
  • What is the true cost to your company for making a bad hire?
    • think actual costs + you and your team’s time (recruiting and training), loss of momentum on projects due to others involved with training or just having  a new (non-fit) member involved. And the list goes on …
  • What is the emotional toll on you and your team of making a bad hire?
  • What would it be like if you had a pool of great candidates to choose from and they were lining up applying to work for you?

Some of those questions may seem a bit ‘oh come on’ and I guess that is one of the key points I want to emphasise. I believe most people don’t give hiring the time it deserves because it is seen as a distraction and pain in the ass. The first stage of hiring GREAT people is to acknowledge that hiring is the absolute foundation to a GREAT company. Your people are your company … so as a leader you need to make finding the right people one of your top priorities. Great People bring Great customer service, they bring Great finance skills, they bring motivation, they bring Great sales skills, they bring Great operational systems and skills and they are Great at working as a team. All these characteristics and skills are what are going to make your company Great.

OK … let’s get into the nuts and bolts.

The Foundation.

Firstly the bad news. While this post outlines a system and process for attracting GREAT people; a process is useless without a great culture. Great people want to work for great companies and great companies have a great cultures. If you want to understand about great cultures, read ‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh or here is great article about adventure company GAP that was featured in Profit Magazine. I’m not going to go on about culture here (that is another massive post topic) but I will say that it is critical. Top performers are attracted to top performance cultures. Your culture will attract those who are a fit for it. Be very intentional about your culture.

Another critical foundational piece is a clear  and compelling vision. Great people want to be part of a company that is going somewhere. To be part of a company that has a purpose and the drive to fulfill it. It is not enough to want to grow, be successful and make money. Your vision, mission or purpose (whatever you want to call it) must be something you truly feel passionate about and it must be something you can communicate well to others. Hiring Great people is like trying to acquire new ideal customers. You need to be able to sell them on the ideal of working with you. There must be an emotional benefit that goes beyond ‘having a job’. If you are hiring people who ‘want a job’ then you are not hiring Great people. And you will never have a Great company.

So we have our 2 key foundation items Culture and Vision (or purpose or Mission or whatever … yes I am a bit cynical about all the terminology. Just show me you have passion about something that is more than yourself). There are many other factors that can affect the success of a new hire but I believe if you have a solid culture, then most of those other things should be in place. An example of what I’m referring to is great managers. If your managers are not able to develop great relationships with those they manage, you will have turnover.

The System.

The key philosophy behind this system is ‘deselection’. What I mean by that is you want to attract as many applicants as possible then allow them to deselect themselves based on the barriers you are going to put in their way. It is also important for your mindset to be one of deselection. You want to feel like you are in the position of ‘if you don’t find the ideal candidate, you will not make a hire’. There is nothing worse than feeling like you HAVE to hire … that is when the big hiring mistakes are made.

If a candidate gets the feeling that you are extremely selective it brings an exclusiveness to the process. Now we don’t do this with a ‘fake it’ type approach. It must be sincere. I truly want you to have a ‘selective’ mentality.

Picture your current team like a finely balanced mix of chemicals that if they were to tip slightly off balance would explode. Your job, as the chemist, is to test all new chemicals (potential hires) you want to add to the existing mixture to make sure they are not going make an explosion. You have to be selective or your business will be blown to pieces. This might be an exaggeration .. but the analogy applies.

The Flow – I’m going to outline the steps involved so you can see where we are headed.

  • Attraction – you will work to attract as many applicants as possible and have them apply by email.
  • Phone Screening – after they apply, you will send them an email  (ideally an auto-responder so you can save time) asking them to call a phone number and answer some questions
  • Short list – from these telephone-message responses you will select a shortlist based on how well they presented on the phone and answered the questions.
  • Test Drive – Now you will send the short list a group of tasks. These tasks are designed to simulate and test the skills required to excel in the job. The tasks should require a significant time investment (3-4 hrs) so you can see how committed people are and test their work ethic.
  • Profiling – After the test drive you should be down to 1 or 2 top candidates. You will get them to complete a profile tool (I use DiSC and Flippen) that will help you guide your questioning in the last stage
  • 1-on-1 Behavioral Interview – In a face to face or Skype meeting, you will interview the candidate and make your final assessment.

Step 1 – Your Ideal Candidate

Define your Ideal Candidate. Download our Ideal Candidate form to help you here. This step might seem quite straight forward but the more detail you can define, the more chance you have of finding the ideal person. There is an attraction process that helps here (like in all areas of life). The clearer you are on what you want, the more chance there is of you getting it. The purpose of clearly defining the ideal candidate is for you to get clear + allow you to write the best Ad. Just be mindful that the key attributes you assemble for your ideal candidate are essential for success in that role. (In other words, be sure to steer clear of any prohibited grounds or attributes when selecting your next great team member, and stick to what related work skills they require)

If you aren’t aware of the prohibited grounds, feel free to check out the following resources:

Australia

Canada 

USA

You’ll see an area on the Ideal Profile called DiSC. If you are not familiar with the DiSC behavioral profile tool I’ll be putting a post up about it soon. Sign up to follow my blog and you’ll get the notice when it’s live.

Step 2 – Writing Your Ad

Writing a powerful Ad (like any marketing) is only possible when you know who you are writing it for. Now that you have your ideal candidate your wording must be crafted with that person in mind. Avoid making your Ad generic like all the other ads out there. The ad must speak to your ideal candidate and also represent the culture of your company.

Critical point – you want people to apply by email. It is best to have a dedicated email address that receives the application because you are going to have an auto-responder set up to respond to each application.

Setting up the logistics – as well as having a dedicated email address (e.g. [email protected]) you will need a voice mail box to receive the phone responses. If you have a phone system that can handle that great – if not consider using a Skype (or similar service) virtual number. I’ve also had clients use their mobile phones after hours to receive the phone responses.

Step 3 – Placing Your Ad

In short, you want to place your ad in as many places as possible. The services available to your will depend on your location. Use free sites, paid sites, community channels (notice boards, newsletters etc), social media (yours, your companies, your employees, your friends) and even print classifieds if you think your ideal candidate might look there. You want to give applicants every opportunity to see your ad. Avoid ruling anything out.

Consider using training agencies and recruiters also. Recruiters can be a little tricky as they will want to do the screening and placement for you (for a fee). You don’t want that at this stage. You can however negotiate with some of them to provide candidates to go through your process and if they are successful, a fee be payable. This is not my favourite method but it can work.

Step 4 – The email response.

Once someone applies by email you need to email them back with instructions on what do to next. Use a script similar to this. Include a copy of the position contract/job description for them to review. I’ve had great success with the questions listed on this script but if you want to put your own in, by all means. The goal is so you can get a feel for the persons phone manner (important even if the role they are applying for is not phone based. How they prepare and present for a phone call is how they will prepare and present for everything), their level of preparation, how well they follow instructions, their confidence and their mojo :).

Key point – resist the temptation to read the resumes before you’ve received a phone response from the applicant. Reading resumes takes time and can be meaningless. Resumes are what the candidate wants you to know about them. We’ll get to that. We need to do some screening first so we don’t have to look at as many resumes. Someone who takes the time to prepare and leave a decent message is way better than someone who can’t be bothered but has a kick ass resume.

Step 5 – The Short List

As the phone responses come in, you’ll obviously listen to them and score them. Here’s a scoring sheet you can use. Use these scoring sheets to select your best candidate. Feel free to involve other people in your organization in this part of the process – particularly those who will be working with the new hire. As you review the best responses, now is the time to go back and review their resume.

Step 6 – The Test Drive

Once you’ve got your best candidates, now we need to continue our screening for attitude (work ethic) and skill. Forget what they say they can do, let’s see what they can ACTUALLY do and are WILLNG to do. You need to devise suitable activities that will simulate and test for the key skills and ability you require from the new hire. If they can’t be done remotely (i.e. truck driver) then now is the time to bring them in to do the test on premises. This can also be a good idea even if your skills can be tested remotely. Here’s an example of how I did it when I hired my right hand person Melina.

Video 1 – Introduction

Video 2 – About my company and the role

Video 3 – Test Drive Exercises

Step 7 – Profiling

Before we do a 1-on-1 interview it is extremely helpful to have some more objective insight into the person. Everyone has strengths and everyone has constraints (behavioural tendancies that don’t serve them). We want the scoop on that so we can ask pointed questions and see how they handle.

The two tools I use are DiSC and Flippen. Flippen is by far the better tool and really gives an pin point accurate assessment on a persons abilities. It is not cheap but it is amazing. And given the true costs of a wrong hire, it really is a no-brainer. For an understanding on what Flippen is, take a look at this video I give people to watch before I do their debrief. I only use this video when working with clients (not hiring applicants) but it gives you the low down on Flippen.

DiSC can be helpful also and if you didn’t want to do the Flippen, DiSC is an easy assessment to understand. The weakness of DiSC is the applicant is the only one who takes the assessment so you can get a biased answer. In a Flippen, it is a 360 assessment; another 6 people complete the profile on behalf of the applicant, making it impossible to fudge.

Step 8 – The Interview

OK so we are at the interview stage. We have our final 1 or 2 top applicants, they’ve done some assessments so now we are ready to spend some quality time with them.

Probably the most important thing to remember here is the type of questions you need to ask. You need to ask situational and behavioural type questions vs one-word answer style questions. Any question like “can you do X?” is a waste of time because the candidate usually knows how you want it answers. A better type of question is “Tell me about a time when X happened to you … how did you handle it?”. Here’s a list of questions you can ask. Choose those which are applicable to the job you are hiring for…and look for opportunities to ask follow-up questions if you need more information.

Another great tactic when asking questions is to name drop one of their references/past employers such as – “When I ask (name of past employer) about how you deal with X situations, what will they tell me?” This brings about a level of honesty in the response because they assume you will be checking up on them.

Have a couple of people in the interview so while one person is asking a question, the other can be either listening/observing or picking the next question. It is very hard to capture everything in an interview so having multiple people enables you to discuss after the interview and compare notes. I highly advise having people involved who will actually be working with the person once they are hired. If they buy into the hire, they will be more invested in making them successful.

Another learning I’ve seen time and time again is the benefit of have both male and female on the interviewing team. Different sexes pick up different things. And there is a lot to be said for the female intuition when it comes to reading people.

Step 9 – Reference Checking

While in some countries there are laws prohibiting what can be said during a reference check, I still believe it is a vital step. Even if someone is restricted in what they can tell you, you can tell a lot by how they dance around questions or even their tone and words. Don’t skip it. Anytime I have, I’ve regretted it.

Summary

Yes, there is a bit of work to set this all up. But once you’ve done it and run the process a couple of times you’ll experience massive time savings and a much higher success rate. You’ll also learn how you need to tweak the system to improve it for your company.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, successes and challenges with it.

Happy Hiring.