Leadership: Using Assessments as a Discovery Tool

change-sign“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree, American businessman and writer.

Being a dynamic and successful leader relies deeply on discovering and understanding your full potential, along with continuous growth. Knowing who you are and understanding who you are sound like the same idea, but are actually two completely different concepts. Knowing yourself is simple. Taking that knowledge of who you are, breaking it apart and learning from it is much more complex.

Continuous learning helps you and your team understand yourselves and each other. Furthermore, it helps you, your managers and your team grow into more successful leaders. Leadership and management assessments, like Profiles Performance Indicator (PPI) and ProfileXT, can help you discover strengths and weaknesses, identify and highlight personality characteristics, development opportunities, and ultimately solve any issues that could lead to low employee output or decreased job fulfillment.

Through assessment tools, effective leadership and a more prosperous business become achievable. Not only do they strengthen current leadership, but also help cultivate new leaders from within your organization. PPI measures individuals potential for growth and development through behavior characteristics, such as productivity, quality of work, how one works on a team, initiative, problem solving, adaptation to change, motivators, and how one responds to stress or frustration. ProfileXT measures how well individuals fit specific jobs in your organization based on similar characteristics. While the ProfileXT assesses an individual’s qualities based on a specific job, PPI evaluates an individual’s overall potential in the company. Let’s review the four aspects of behavior the PPI tool defines.

  • Measuring behaviors in critical job-related components allows an individual to make full use of their strengths and manage areas that may be limiting effectiveness. The job-related components that the PPI measures include:
    • Productivity
    • Quality of work
    • Initiative
    • Teamwork
    • Problem solving
    • Adapting to change
  • Stress, frustration, and conflict often come packaged with a job. How an individual responds to the job-related stress can give insight into their potential for leadership and what improvements they can make to get there.
  • What motivates people to be more proficient in what they do? PPI helps and individual get a better understanding for the reasoning behind his or her own motivations and gives managers a better understanding of how they can better motivate their team.
  • Motivational intensity, or the passion that is exhibited as one approaches a situation, can be a great indicator of a successful leader. If someone shows high motivational intensity for each and every task they complete, no matter the circumstances, they could be an excellent choice for a leadership role.

Discovering and understanding yourself and your team are extremely effective in improving leadership skills across the board. Once behavior characteristics are uncovered and proficiency is highlighted in distinct job categories, knowledge can be applied, and refined through time and practice in all aspects of the company. These profile assessments not only help you boost team morale and productivity, but can also be used as a discovery tool to potential leadership opportunities.

For more information on growing as a leader using the Profiles Performance Indicator and ProfileXT assessment tools, contact us today.

The Cost of Making the Wrong Hire

services1As your company grows, the imperative to build your team with new and productive members becomes a top priority. Hiring the right person is a process that takes a plan, a system, and The Profile XT® tool that you can use in the interview process.

The cost of making the wrong hire can only be detrimental to your company. While the adage that it is better to hire too soon rather than too late is true, the path to hiring needs to be a clear one which avoids the cost of making the wrong choice.

According to a survey conducted by Career Builder, 41% of companies say that a bad hire in the last year has cost them at least $25,000. This statistic is alarming for businesses everywhere. Typically, businesses feel that a loss of money is the worst result of making the wrong hire. However, when speaking about the “costs” of making a wrong hire, a lot more than money can be lost.

Hiring the wrong individual can be detrimental to your business because of the potential loss in productivity. The amount of time managers and HR professionals spend training the wrong hire can interfere with time that could have been used to accomplish other tasks. Career Builder also reported that 40% of companies lost time due to recruiting and training another employee.

It is important to consider your current employees, as well. The company’s culture can be negatively affected when a wrong hire joins your team. According to a survey conducted by Robert Half, 60% of hiring managers and HR professionals said bad hires do not get along with current employees. Ninety-five percent of financial executives surveyed agreed that a bad hire can somewhat affect the morale of a team. Again the question arises: do you have a process, system, and assessment tool to promote from within?

The hiring process can also be strenuous at times, so strenuous that businesses often seek professional consulting to assist with hiring. Jeff Miller has a reputation for counseling businesses on best practices. His years of experience as a business coach and hiring professional can help guide you through the process to ensure that you’re making the extra effort to acquire the best talent. To get started, please tell us a little more about yourself and we’ll set up a time to start the conversation.

The Hiring Process

hiring process“Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team?”  – Richard Branson in, “Hiring the Right People”

So what is the most important factor when building your team? Maybe it’s experience, dedication, personality or a combination. Recruiting is a skill that is handled by a Human Resources department in larger companies. For growing companies or those just starting out, you can save time, money and stress by using our assessment tools to help find the right candidate.

What are assessment tools?

Assessments help you uncover consistent, objective information about yourself and your employees’ needs that enable you to make smarter hiring decisions moving forward.

Using the PXT Assessment Tool, we can measure how well an individual fits specific jobs in your organization. The “job matching” feature of the PXT is unique, enabling you to evaluate an individual relative to the qualities required to successfully perform in a specific job. It’s used throughout the employee life cycle for selection, employee orientation, managing, and strategic workforce planning.

When business suddenly picks up, it’s tempting to rush into posting a job ad, or worse, hire someone who turns out to be the wrong fit for your company. Take the time to detail your needs, assess the requirements and expectations of the position, as well as setting future goals. By doing so, you’re opening up the possibility to hire internally––which saves you money––while eliminating a large pool of applicants.

Are you asking the right questions? There’s no better way to find out information, but if you’re asking the wrong questions, you may end up with a jaded view of the applicant. Try mixing informal questions with more difficult, work-related questions that pertain to your needs. By doing this, you’re making an assessment from all angles, not just professional. Keep in mind that you should be asking current employees similar questions––this helps give an idea of what is needed from a new applicant.

Have you ever wondered what new employees think of your company? Hopefully they have as good of an impression of it as you do. When hiring, don’t just sell the job, sell the company. Give applicants an idea of what you’re all about––culture, office environment, benefits––so they know what to expect coming in.

Lastly, stay focused. If you want to attract top applicants, cast a wide net but also know where to look. Using social media is a great way to attract talent. LinkedIn, for example, allows employers to reach a large number of people but in a very controlled way. This year, spend less time sifting through countless resumes and focus your search from the start.

Hiring is a major process of the business cycle.  Let it be a means to increasing your company’s growth. Along with the Assessment Tool for hiring, it’s never a bad idea to consult an expert to guide you through the process. Jeff Miller has years of experience as a business coach and can help guide you through the process. Please tell us a little more about yourself and we’ll set up a time to start the conversation.

Three ways to successfully grow your business

Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The fellow playin’ first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy on first base.
Abbott: Who is on first.
Costello: I throw the ball to first base, whoever it is grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to what. What throws it to I don’t know. I don’t know throws it back to tomorrow–a triple play….”

 

There may not be a more classic and beloved comedy sketch than Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First.” In the business arena, however, the sketch’s comedic outcome is not so funny. Unchecked and chaotic growth has led many an organization, large and small, into the dead end/crash-and-burn reality that without structure, there can be no sustainable growth.

With that in mind, consider the following three essentials for successful growth:

1. Developing an Organization Chart

An accurate and up-to-date Organization Chart is essential for businesses to grow in a coordinated, planned, and structurally sound fashion. It is one of the first projects we work on with new clients.

Understanding who does what, who reports to whom, and what the lines of communications are is how growth happens in a functional and progressive way. It is the true road map of understanding the path you are currently on and what the milestones along the way will be.

What’s really interesting is that for the most part, all organizations are structured the same. We all have operations, sales and marketing, accounting, office management and administrative tasks and responsibilities. The boxes in our charts are the same.  In the case of small businesses, it becomes even more critical to ask— how many times and in what boxes is his or her name? It becomes quite revealing when that visual goes up on the wall. Only when you see all the functions you are preforming and how many boxes your name is in, can the path to growth shed some of its haziness and clarity set in.

2. Developing Job Descriptions

Once the Organization Chart is complete, the next step for true growth is developing job descriptions (sometimes referred to as position contracts) for every position.  In his book, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Pat Lencioni makes the compelling case that feelings of irrelevance, anonymity, and most importantly, a lack of accountability are what define professional unhappiness.  Job descriptions are key to addressing all three, particularly the latter.

Job descriptions clearly defines the job and who reports to whom, further reinforcing the proper lines of communication, and it also allows for the development of a performance matrix or key performance indicators. Job descriptions should also address how each position 1) makes the business money and/or improves efficiency, or 2) costs in money/efficiencies. Perhaps most critically, job descriptions address and set team expectations.

3. Implementing Hiring Assessments and Tools

At the end of the day, any company is only as strong as the team running it — from the CEO down to the last box on the organization chart. And the reality of today’s world is that hiring a mistake and having that person leave or be terminated will cost you a minimum of $25,000 in money, time and training. Implementing the right hiring assessment will help ensure that you’re developing a team that is the best fit for your organization. Here’s why:

A recent Harvard University study found that companies who use psychometric job matching assessments (such as ProfilesXT) on job candidates during the hiring process secured a 75 percent success rate. More traditional methods such as interviewing or resume checking garnered much lower success rates (10 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

Beyond the hiring process, assessments are a critical part in the arc of responsible, planned, and structurally sound growth. Jim Collin argues in From Good to Great that it is not only critical to have the “right people on the bus,” but also to make sure they are sitting in the right seat. Have you experienced having a great employee who has bought into the corporate culture and is a great team member, but is underperforming? That person is probably sitting in the wrong seat. An assessment that might allow for a strategic repositioning of that person within the company can be quite powerful. They also allow for more growth from within.

In closing, there is no safety in staying static. This point cannot be understated and is true both for individuals and for business organizations. In reality, one could argue that in business there is no static position. There is constant change, which leads either to contraction or growth. Costello’s final comment is “I don’t care” to which Abbott replies, “He’s our shortstop!”  Be sure to keep the bases on your company covered with the right team member, no matter what their names are.

First you assess, then you design

Examining the second pillar of leadership

A few weeks ago, we started talking about three “pillars” that a business owner — or any decision-maker, really — should rely on while evaluating a certain course of action.

The first step is to assess your current situation. You can read more about that here. At the end of that first step, you usually identify an issue or challenge that needs addressing. But for all the SWOTs and situational analyses, you won’t get anywhere unless you design a concrete plan or solution. This may seem like a daunting task, but the process can be easier than you’d expect if you are honest with yourself and your business’s needs. As you move forward, consider using the following guidelines:

Define the problem or challenge. Ask yourself what are you pretending not to see. This sounds simple, but with so much going on, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what needs fixing. Time, team and money are usually involved here. Are your numbers on the decline? If so, why? Is there conflict among your team? What’s causing it? Do you or anyone on your staff struggle with time management?

Identify a solution. This can take many forms, of course, from goal setting to confronting a personnel issue. Something to consider: while SMART goals are important, you can be SMARTER by incorporating encouragement and rewards into your goal-setting practice. If you are setting goals, break your goals down to 12-month, 6-month and 90-day sets. This method allows you to work toward your ultimate 12-month goal on a daily basis.

Have an honest conversation. Part of this process may involve having an honest conversation about the changes you need to make, whether it’s with yourself or someone on your team. Don’t avoid it. And make sure you base your goals in reality — you don’t want to hide behind rose-colored glasses.

Establish timelines. This may seem like a no-brainer but it is especially important if you’re seeking to change quarterly or annual numbers. Determine the date by which your goal needs to be met and reverse-engineer it so that you know what you need to be doing TODAY to achieve it. You’ll also be able to verify whether the timeframe for that goal (or concurrent goals) is realistic

Create a matrix for testing and measuring performances. Think about the questions you need answered. If you are in sales, how many contacts do you need to make and convert into new customers to help you reach your goals? Or, let’s say you need to address poor team performance. You and/or your management team will want to sit down and establish a baseline of expectations. You would then use that baseline to create a method of measuring success moving forward. If it’s a quality or production issue, you’ll want to set a goal minimum percentage of recalls or returns and measure against that number on an ongoing basis. You can also use these numbers to create an incentive program for your team.

Create a system of accountability. Who will you share your plan with? Make sure it is someone (or someones) who will hold your feet to the fire. It’s important to do this before you put your plan into action.

Know that you’re going to delegate as you move forward. If a particular skillset isn’t in your wheelhouse, can you outsource it? Reach out to people around you — you don’t have to solve everything yourself. Who’s help will you need? Which team members will you bring into play?

Hire strategically. Speaking of delegation, make sure your hiring system reflects the culture of your organization. Where do you list your job postings? Studies show that when you use tools like job-matching assessments during the hiring process, you can increase your employee retention rates by as high as 87.5 percent.

However you choose to move forward with designing a solution, it’s important to find a plan that matches the distinct needs and variables of your business. Up next, we’ll talk about best practices for implementing your plan.

The three pillars of growth every leader should know

Assess. Design. Implement.

In business and in life, true leaders must have the ability to assess the situation, design a plan of attack, and then implement that plan. Over the course of my next few blog posts, we will examine each of these three components in depth.

Pillar 1: Assess

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses makes little calculation beforehand. Thus many calculations lead to victory and few lead to defeat.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away.”  Winston Churchill

While seemingly obvious, the beginning of any campaign needs to be an accurate assessment of the situation. One cannot design an appropriate plan without a truthful assessment. Unfortunately, on too many occasions, we have all witnessed poor leadership due to a faulty or delusional view of reality.

As leaders, business owners, and members of our community, we have the responsibility and privilege to conduct assessments that look at the gaps of where we are and where we need to be. But the questions asked and the answers we derive must be based on the reality of what is, not the fantasy of what we want it to be.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins’ seminal work, he interviews Admiral Jim Stockdale who was a prisoner of war (along with Senator John McCain) from 1965-1973. Held at what was referred to as the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam, he endured years of torture and brutality. When Collins asked which prisoners didn’t survive, Stockdale answered: “the optimists…they were the ones who said we’re going to be out by Christmas and Christmas would come and go…and then Easter would come and go…and then Thanksgiving would come and go…and then it would be Christmas again and they died of a broken heart.” According to Stockdale, the critical lesson is “…never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

We are obligated to create a culture and an environment that supports and demands that we are constantly looking for those “brutal facts.” Easier said than done, and it is a process that we at times self-sabotage.

To avoid the pitfalls of self-delusion, you must ask yourself seven questions:

  1. Is your assessment process driven by making popular or accurate decisions?
  2. Are you empowering your people to communicate honestly?
  3. Are you more concerned with ‘looking good’ rather than looking in the mirror?
  4. Do you allow conflict to play an effective and constructive role when making decisions, or are you always looking for 100% consensus?
  5. Are you more concerned with how you are viewed than results?
  6. Do you surround yourself with people or confidants who will call it as they see it and not by what they think you want to hear?
  7. Do you have the courage to hear the truth?

Here is an exercise that will test your will: once you answer the questions above, do you have the courage to ask your team, your friends and your family if they agree with you?

The great motivational speaker and author Jack Canfield talks about how to change outcomes from negative to positive. The event is what it is, we can’t undo it. Things happen. Ceilings collapse. The only thing we can change is our response to it. Assess the new situation, make hard decisions based on it and take action. It is a powerful lesson. One that applies equally as strong in business and leadership.

In our next article we’ll cover the second pillar of leadership growth: the design process.