Staff selection

Tip #10–Tell people what you like about them

Posted on August 15, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development, Staff selection |

People appreciate hearing what they do well and what we like about them. Building relationship with coworkers, subordinates, and supervisors is easy when we tell those individuals what we specifically appreciate about them. Giving honest, appropriate compliments to the people around us can help them feel noticed and appreciated. It can also help us begin to change our thoughts about those individuals into more positive ones.

My motivation for writing this tip in 2003 was hearing far too many people complain that all they ever heard from their boss was what they did wrong. When I asked what sort of affect this had on their willingness to work for those bosses, their responses were classic:

  • When the boss approaches me, I prepare for another jab at my abilities
  • I don’t have much motivation to improve because I never know what I’m doing right
  • I’m so used to the criticism now that it doesn’t mean anything anymore

These very typical responses are indicative of a perception among staff that the only time the boss talks to them is when they’ve done something wrong. When staff has that perception, it squelches initiative and stops creativity.

Why are initiative and creativity important?

Without initiative, staff simply carry out instructions. When they have reached the end of their set of instructions for an assigned task, they lack motivation to move to another task until assigned to it. In other words, there’s no ownership of the mission or goals of the company. Without that ownership, staff is typically unwilling to solve problems, brainstorm ways to increase effectiveness, or remain with the company for very long.

Creativity–an offshoot of initiative–is the characteristic in staff that results in new methods to streamline processes; it’s the characteristic that fuels excitement and generates ideas; it’s the characteristic that–when it is rewarded–keeps exceptional talent in a job even when they know there’s more green (money) at another company.

Give praise where it’s due

You can cultivate initiative and creativity in your staff by acknowledging their unique contributions and strengths as they relate to the success of the company. Start looking for ways your staff supports the mission of your company. Consciously seek out those efforts that help achieve the company’s goals. Once you begin to recognize those actions, tell the employee you noticed and that you appreciate them!

What will be the outcome?

If your staff isn’t accustomed to hearing from you except when they’ve messed up, they’ll be extremely skeptical of any praise you hand out. Why? Because they aren’t used to it. They’ll be watching to see whether this “new” you will vanish as quickly as you showed up.

Over time and with consistency on your part, they’ll question whether they can count on the new you to stick around. They may even test you to see whether this new behavior on your part is reliable.

As you continue to commit to giving praise where it’s due, they will become accustomed to this new you and begin to respond to it–with greater initiative and more creativity. The process isn’t easy but it is worth the effort.

Does this mean I can never point out problems again?

Absolutely not. Your job as supervisor is to ensure adherence to the quality of your product and the successful completion of your staff’s projects. It’s your job to correct inappropriate behavior and to point out when projects are not done to the level of excellence you expect.

However, your job also involves ensuring you have a team committed to the success of your department. That’s where praising and acknowledging accomplishments comes in. You will do more for creating a team atmosphere by incorporating praise into how you communicate with your staff … and encouraging your staff to acknowledge others’ contributions as well.

Putting praise to work

Over the course of the next several days, pay attention to the individual efforts and behaviors of your staff. Watch specifically for efforts and behaviors that support your mission and help achieve your goals. Then, point out those efforts to the individuals exhibiting them. Say something like, “Dan, I noticed yesterday in our meeting that you were prepared with an answer to the client’s question regarding delivery dates. Good work. That shows you anticipated their questions.”

As simple as that. What’s not so simple is remembering to look for those efforts. After all, it’s much easier to point out the problems than it is to recognize individuals’ successes and efforts. But the longterm rewards are in recognizing the efforts.

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Your Values are Showing #2

Posted on March 3, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Staff selection |

Thanks again to my wonderful Soroptimist friends for participating in the Values program on Thursday. Liz sent me an email with this comment:

Though not a “utilitarian,” I recognize good value. I’d say I got my money’s worth. A no-brainer for a “theoretical.” Your session on values was excellent and I can’t imagine how anyone would not profit from the experience. As the quote on the individual report states: “He who knows himself is wise.”

Michelle said this:

The most valuable part was finding out what my values were and having a copy of the report to refer to. It will help me understand why I do things the way I do and why others do things the way they do–in the workplace and at home.

Understanding ourselves is the first step in understanding others. Knowing what makes people tick and others tock is critical to knowing how to communicate with them effectively. Knowing our own values helps us determine how to speak in a language the individual can understand–a time-saving strategy for anyone who needs to communicate!

Thanks again to a great group for yet another successful Values program!

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Can a Nap at Work Save Your Life?

Posted on February 28, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Staff selection |

I don’t know, but I sure like the idea! This article at states that the jury is still out. I love naps, but I don’t get enough of them. The article says couch potatoes should avoid napping, but “energetic and active” people should nap. Hmmm. I think the reason I can’t nap is because I am energetic and active. I’m pretty much always in motion or doing something.

Heck, I’ve been feeling kind of nap-ish today. And I thought to myself: Hey, I work at home. If I want to take a nap, I can. Then I looked at my desk clock. It’s almost 5 p.m. now, and napping would mean I’d miss the news. Plus I still have to cook dinner for hubby and me. And the tax person is coming over tonight …

Alas, I’m a busy and active person. I could use a nap. But I don’t get them because I’m busy and active. Couch potatoes, you may be on to something!

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Your Values are Showing!

Posted on February 13, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Staff selection |

Special thanks to members of Soroptimist International of Truckee Meadows (SITM). This organization, whose mission is improving the lives of women and girls in local communities and around the world, gave me the opportunity to show them how their values influence their decision making and relationships–personally and at work.

“Your Values are Showing” is an assessment-based program that is esssential to understanding 1) why we make the decisions we do, 2) how those decisions influence our behavior, and 3) how to improve our relationships with others. The key to understanding others is understanding the values that drive their decision making.

Target Training International’s (TTI) research-driven assessment tools are the basis for this workshop. Over 40 years of research in values and behaviors has led TTI to creating industry-leading, validated assessment products designed to:

  • Understand what the job requires
  • Get the right person in the right job
  • Grow that person to their highest potential

Far too often, hiring decisions are made on personality and individual appeal rather than on the true requirements of the job. Job benchmarking–the key to understanding what the job requires–identifies the true requirements of the job without taking personality or preference into consideration.

One component of the job benchmarking process is helping managers and staff understand one another so that:

  • Conflicts are kept to a minimum
  • Lines of communication are kept open and active

Understanding values is key to this process. And members of SITM now have a greater understanding of the values that drive their own behavior and strategies for understanding those in their work environments.

Contact me to find out more about the “Your Values are Showing” workshop and the job benchmarking process.

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Getting it Right the First Time: Solving your staffing issues

Posted on February 2, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Staff selection |

In this week’s Workforce Development ezine, the question once again arises about outsourcing human resource functions. I like the diplomatic responses the authors of Workforce Development give—they never come right out and say, “You idiot, you still have to know what you want in an employee. You can’t just outsource and expect magic to happen!”

No, the authors instead provide long, detailed responses that inspire the questioner to think beyond the issue and to make a decision about outsourcing they won’t regret.

Outsourcing human resource activities seems like a good idea … on the surface. But the fact remains that you and your company must know exactly what you want in an employee for the HR firm to bring you viable prospects. If you can’t create a specific list of attributes, they can’t narrow the playing field.

Job Benchmarking is key to narrowing that playing field. In this process, stakeholders for the position you want to fill identify the attributes, activities, responsibilities, and desires the person in the vacant position should have. We do this without a particular candidate in mind. Rather, we look at the position from an objective perspective and come up with a list of specific, measurable, tangible accountabilities for the person who holds that job. Then we use assessment tools to generate a report identifying the skills and abilities our candidate must have.

Clients who use the benchmarking process report: longer retention, better qualified employees, and greater satisfaction—both from the manager/peer side as well as from the employee side. Overall, these clients—because of benchmarking the jobs—are getting the right people into the right jobs the first time.

To find out more about job benchmarking, click on the Assessments and Benchmarking tab … or call me to find out more: Tracy (775)544-8479.

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Talent Shortage: Tightening Budgets Require Smart Hiring

Posted on January 4, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development, Staff selection |

The tightening labor market is forcing companies to be smarter in their hiring processes. Getting the right person into the right job is more important now than ever before. Why? Because according to firms that study labor-market trends, there is a shortage of qualified individuals to fill those vacant jobs–and hiring the wrong person for the job is expensive.

In the most recent issue of Workforce, the article “An Ever-Changing Workforce Management Landscape” discusses trends in the labor field. In that article, Mark Mehler, co-founder of CareerXroads, a recruiting technology consulting firm, says:

The talent shortage, together with a tightening labor market, is forcing organizations to be more accountable for their recruiting dollars and more aggressive about finding top people. As recruiters emphasize “active sourcing,” tapping into as many avenues as possible to find strong candidates, corporate executives are demanding evidence that their work is paying off.

The pressure to find the right person for the job makes the human resources’ department job challenging, especially when the company is growing quickly and roles and responsibilities are shifting.

Too frequently job descriptions are written to encompass the idealized view of the job, not the reality of what it takes to do the job. Likewise, advertisements placed for talent for those jobs include appropriate key words to fit the job description–without taking into account what sort of behaviors and attitudes the job will reward. There is hope: job benchmarking is a method of determining exactly what is required of the job.

Benchmarking a job is a process through which stakeholders in the position (those who have held the job previously, perform it well now, and supervise that position) identify the key accountabilities required by the job. The key accountabilities are then used to determine the behaviors and attitudes the job rewards. In other words, we determine what the job needs to be performed optimally rather than looking at just the tasks that will be performed by the person holding that job. The result: an objective view of what’s required in the performance of the job.

Too frequently, staff selection is based on a compiled list of what would be nice to have in the job in terms of skills, ability, and knowledge. When candidates go through the interview process, often their appearance, tone of voice, professional demeanor, and ability to speak well under pressure gives a skewed perception of their actual ability or fit for the job. I’ve heard some HR directors say that even though the person didn’t look so great on paper, he or she was really nice in the interview. And that was the basis for the hiring decision. Yikes.

Benchmarking lessens the influence of the person personally and focuses the hiring choice on actual suitability to the requirements of the position. That might seem a bit cold and give the impression that candidates are reduced to numbers rather than who they are as people. But too many companies are reeling from bad hiring decisions because subjective data was used in the hiring process. Developing a job benchmark, using it to write a job description and advertisement, and then using it to screen candidates is proven to increase retention and satisfaction–both for candidates and their employers.

Would you like to find out more about how benchmarking jobs in your company can improve your hiring and retention? Click on the Assessments and Benchmark link to the right and the Benchmark link above to read a bit more about the process; then contact me for more information. I’ll be happy to help!

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“Customers Come First” is more than just a slogan; it’s a culture

Posted on January 2, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development, Staff selection |

The excerpt below comes from an article in and reinforces the importance of recognizing employees for their efforts–not only because of the effort made but also because of the long-range impact of that recognition:

Express carrier company DHL has a recognition program designed to reinforce customer service. The “Finding Their Heroes” program uses performance, service and on-the-spot awards to recognize extraordinary customer service. A trainer in one of DHL’s hubs was recognized after he sprinted to an ice cream store for ice when a package containing a blood sample was getting too warm as it was being delayed in customs.

“They [DHL] understand that you can’t just put a poster on the wall that says, ‘Customers Come First.’ The only way they’re going to develop that is by recognizing those behaviors,” Gostick says.

When managers understand the significance of recognizing employees for the quality of their work and their efforts on the company’s behalf–rather than just recognizing when something goes wrong, they build a strong foundation for employee motivation and commitment. The consistent recognition that is a part of a company’s culture–and not just a poster on the wall–is what makes the words on that poster reality. After all, if employees do not feel valued and appreciated for their efforts they are more likely to pass that feeling along to your customers. That’s a risk you do not want to take!

How does a company develop and foster this commitment to valuing not only customers but also employees? It has to do with an understanding in top management that your company is in business because of the people who work there, not in spite of them. It comes from realizing that customers–you and me included–do business with people and products they like. For example, if two products are comparable but the service you get when you are shopping for those products are markedly different, you will choose the product from the business that values and respects you as a person.

Likewise, employees work harder and with greater commitment for managers who value and respect their efforts and input to the success of the company.

But recognition of employees and their contribution isn’t all it takes. Creating a culture of appreciation requires that the message of appreciation be constantly and repeatedly communicated in the organization. Talking about it isn’t enough, though. That message must be reinforced through actions at the highest level with an expectation that similar action will be taken at the lowest level. The constant reinforcement through words and action is critical to changing the culture. Without that constant reinforcement over time, the message will be just another in a long line of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do management.

Don’t expect rapid, overnight shifts in the culture in your organization just because you or someone else in the organization expressed appreciation to your staff one time. If that sort of appreciation is new in your company, employees will regard it skeptically at first. They won’t trust that this new thing will stick around, and they may even attempt to push some buttons to test it. Your commitment to changing the culture–regardless of how tough the going gets–is what will change that culture. Learn from DHL’s experience, and stay the course.

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Job Benchmarking: why you should do it

Posted on December 12, 2006. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development, Staff selection |

Companies spend lots of money when looking for the right talent to fill an open position. Considering the costs of: a) time spent deciding that a position needs to be filled, b) time spent composing the right advertisement to find potential candidates, c) money spent advertising the open position, d) time spent reviewing resumes, e) time spent interviewing potential candidates, f) money spent hiring the candidate, g) money and time spent orienting and then training the individual–companies can spend thousands of dollars on this process. And for what? Often to find out the person they hired isn’t a right fit for the job after all. And then the process starts over again.

Add to the thousands of dollars in investment the frustration that occurs throughout the organization when this scenario happens more than once, and you’ve got a situation that needs changing! Job benchmarking–the process through which the actual activities, behaviors, and attitudes required for the job are identified–helps cut down on the time, money, and frustration the typical job search costs. Benchmarking the jobs in your organization help you not only know what to look for in new talent, it also helps you make sure you have the right person in each position within your company.

Why is this important? Because it costs so much more to hire new talent than it does to move talent within your organization to more suitable positions. It may be that a “problem” employee isn’t really a problem at all when that employee is put into a job that is more suited to their behaviors and attitudes!

Clients who work with me to benchmark their positions experience greater satisfaction with the candidates they bring in to fill those positions. But don’t take it from me; listen to what a client has to say:

“The benchmarking process helped us figure out the values and behaviors we needed in the job. The interview questions generated by the benchmark helped us ask each candidate the same questions to make the playing field level. We used the assessments to choose the candidate that was best qualified for our environment and the demands of the job. Benchmarking this position was a worthwhile process, and it strengthened our selection criteria.” Rhea Gustafson, President, Pro-Dex Astromec, Carson City, Nevada.

When I work with you to benchmark your jobs, I gather information from the stakeholders in your company–those people who have experience with the job and who have a vested interest in making sure the position is filled with just the right person. After identifying the specific activities, behaviors, and attitudes required by the job, the stakeholders complete a brief, proven, research-based assessment to compile the specifics needed in the job.

We use the results of the assessment to then:
-write the job advertisement
-review potential candidates
-interview the candidates
-verify that candidates’ talents are suited to the job

The result: clearer picture of the requirements of the job, more accurate job advertisements, better qualified candidates, more suitable hires, and … reduced costs associated with the hiring process.

Job benchmarking is critical to the success of any business. To find out more about how to employ this process for your company, give me a call at (775)544-8479. I’ll show you samples of benchmarking reports and help you decide whether benchmarking will benefit your company.

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How can I find the job that’s right for me?

Posted on December 8, 2006. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Staff selection |

Or … “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” Are you thinking it’s time for a change in your career? Are you wondering whether the job you have is really the job you want? A client of mine, Kelley, is making changes in her career. She’s known for some time that a move was on the horizon, but now that she’s taken the first step in making that move–leaving her most recent job–she wants to be certain she finds a glove-like fit in her next one. Here’s Kelley in her own words:

“I knew I was good with people, but what I did not know is the relationships I form drive me. I also found out that I like rules, guidance, and performance reviews. In my last position, I did not have any of those. It made perfect sense why I was feeling so much discord in that company.

“The career assessment we did together helps me when I go on interviews: I can show my prospective employer–in black and white–why I’m a good fit for their organization. I would recommend this service to anyone who feels like they are lacking guidance in what direction they should take in their career. I’m going to step out of my comfort zone (what I know) and into a different comfort zone (what I need). Tracy, the tools you have given me will improve my future career choices and ultimately my happiness. Your assessment is going to change the course of my life.”

Those are lofty words and ones that warm my heart. In my experience, being in the wrong job is one of the most exhausting things a person can do. Every day is a struggle; each task is a mountain. But when we work from our passion, the job becomes play and we are filled with energy.

As a Certified Professional Behavioral and Values Analyst, my job–the one that energizes and fills me with energy–is helping people like Kelley discover their passion. Once we know our passion, it’s much easier to make career choices that fit that passion. If you’ve been thinking about making a change in your career and want to find out more about the assessment tools I use, please send me an email at

In my next blog, you’ll learn how assessment tools can also be used to help motivate and grow your staff. You see, one doesn’t always have to change jobs to find career satisfaction. Sometimes it’s just changing how we see the job …

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