Monday, 21 April 2008

How to recruit and select the right person

Recruiting the right person can have a dramatic effect on your business, as can recruiting someone unsuitable who could cause real issues. So how can you improve your chances of employing the right person when recruiting staff?

1. Make up a detailed Job Description.

  • What does the job entail?
  • What sort of candidate you are looking for?
  • What is the main purpose of the job?
  • What will be their areas of responsibility?
  • What are the key tasks?
  • How many people will they supervise?

2. Draw up a Person Specification

· What knowledge, skills and experience will this person need?

· What level of education will be required?

Remember that these must only be of importance to the job and must be equally applied regardless of age, sex, race or disability.

3. Salary

To help you decide on the correct Salary for the job, bear in mind pay scales, grades, the current market situation and bonuses, such as a car etc.

4. Advertising the job

· Choose where you wish to advertise the job; local or national newspapers, consultants, job centre etc.

· Make sure that the application form is clear and straightforward.

5. Shortlist

The task of coming up with a shortlist of prospective employee’s should be done by two or more people; this should include the person who will be the new employee’s immediate line manager. You should compare the applicants against your Job Description and Person specification.

6. The Interview

· Prepare a list of initial questions. Open ended questions will encourage them to start talking and also avoid unwanted ‘yes or no’ answers.

· Carefully review each application and make a note of any extra questions or queries you wish to ask an individual person. However, avoid asking questions not related to the job as some may be taken as potentially discriminatory (for example their plans for starting a family etc).

· Ensure that there will be no interruptions during the interviews.

It is vital therefore to ensure that managers who are involved in selection and recruitment have been trained and can demonstrate the necessary skills. Recruiting the right person will help your team and organisation flourish, selecting the wrong one can cause real issues.

Performance Management - Common Pitfalls to Avoid

The purpose of a performance management process is to optimize the success and contribution of each employee, team and ultimately the business/organisation. However, too often organizations do not get the full benefits from their performance management processes because they make one or more basic mistakes.

Here are just a few of the most common pitfalls to avoid.

1) Nobody is accountable for implementing the process. When implementing a performance management process, appoint a project manager to implement it. Make this part of their performance requirements for the year.

2) The Board think that performance management is ‘for everyone else’. For performance management to be successful it must be lead from the top and clearly linked to the business/organization’s strategies and goals.

3) Implementing a highly complex/comprehensive system. Start with the basics first. Use a simple paperwork system to record targets/objectives and an annual (or biannual) review of achievement. As managers and staff recognize the value of the process, more ‘features’ can be added (e.g. 360° appraisal).

4) Have a system that ranks staff. Ranking your staff can kill a performance management system if the only way that an individual can improve their ranking is to undermine the performance of others.

5) Setting vague or inappropriate targets. It is vital to set clear and realistic performance targets.

6) Having conflicting targets and measures. It is important to have congruent targets and measures across the organisation. For example, a target to reduce purchasing spend may seem an appropriate target for the purchasing manager. However, buying ‘cheap’ parts may conflict with an operation manager’s target to improve the reliability and output from his production equipment.

7) Reviewing performance inadequately, for example by focusing on one specific incident rather than reviewing the entire period which the review covers. Also avoid the "halo" and "horns" effects. Just because an employee performs badly in one area does not make his/her overall performance bad. The same goes for good performance. The key to successful reviews is factual data about an individual’s performance.

8) Not providing adequate development support for staff. One key aspect of the performance management process is the development of staff to provide them with the capabilities to achieve their targets. Do not ignore this aspect of performance management.

As stated above, the purpose of a performance management process is to optimize the success of each employee and ultimately the organisation. By taking steps to avoid the aforementioned performance management pitfalls, managers have every opportunity to realize this goal.

As a coach what do you do about your own ego and personality?

The first thing for us to do as coaches is to recognise that we have one and to guard against letting it get in the way of our objectivity, focus of attention, or support for our coaching subject. We are there for their benefit and not for ours!

The danger signs are - if we find ourselves telling anecdotes from our experience which have little or no relevance let alone benefit for the coachee and their agenda or circumstances. If we find that we are drifting off mentally and thinking our own thoughts, rather than focusing on the coachee’s issues and environment then we have our attention in the wrong place. This can happen to us quite unwittingly and we need to be on our guard to watch out for it. If we find ourselves judging the person, wondering how they could possibly have got themselves into such a situation and why on earth they cannot just do the simple thing that we would do to solve their problem or resolve their situation, then we are thinking more about ourselves than about them.

It is equally dangerous if we over-empathise with them and their situation and as a result lose our objectivity and ability to challenge them and their thinking. If our empathy extends too far and if we fins ourselves being overly sympathetic then the chances are that we are identifying too much with their situation. We need to check that we are standing alongside the person that we are coaching and helping them as an equal rather than treating them as a “controlling parent” might, as described in Eric Berne’s excellent work on Transactional Analysis.

Another question to ask ourselves is “why are we doing this work as a coach”?

Now I realise that there are a number of answers to this related to earning a living and to it being a natural career step from where we were before. However if we are embarking on this coaching work for personal status, position and to look big and superior in the eyes of our peers and coaching subjects then I suggest that we may going into it for the wrong reasons.
Of course we need to acknowledge and understand that we do all have our own egos to attend to and deal with – but as long as we recognise this and find other areas of our lives where they can be massaged and put first then we should be able to maintain the focus of our coaching work on the right person, the coachee and not on ourselves.

How does a person know who would make a good coach for them?

Firstly the personal chemistry between the two parties is key to establishing the right relationship. This is not about friendship (although it could be) but more about trust, empathy, rapport, respect and understanding.

Secondly and most importantly, successful coaching depends mainly on the attitude; willingness, circumstances, timing and desire of the coaching subject themselves. They may not have all of these factors in place and proactively know that coaching is what they want and need right from the start. People don’t just wake up one morning and think “Ah, what I need now is a series of coaching sessions/good dose of coaching”! It usually takes some other form of stimulus to bring coaching forward in their consciousness as a potential development solution for them.

Other factors that are sometimes important factors for the coachee when making their choice of coach can be:- gender – do they want a person of the same or opposite sex, age – do they want a person who is older, the same age or younger than them, (although this would be an unusual choice), experience – do they want someone with experience from their type of organisation, functional specialism, marketplace, or approach –do they want someone who is more or less directive, conventional or unconventional, or who has specialist skills e.g. NLP Practitioner, acting & drama, psychotherapy, occupational psychology, or specialist knowledge eg Finance, Marketing, Education, H.R. etc.

In practice and in my experience most new coachees are not provided with and don’t seek out a long or broad list of potential coaches to choose from. More often they meet or talk with their sponsor who has some personal knowledge of me or one of my colleague coaches and who recommends that they might like to meet with me to discuss the prospect of them being coached. They may be given a choice of two or three coaches known to sponsor but this usually comes with a personal recommendation. In my organisation, we would usually offer potential new coachees a choice of coach, unless we have been recommended individually. If we are asked by a coachee about who else we have who might be able to coach them and do they have a choice in this then we will offer them one or two alternative coaches. In practice this matter of choice rarely occurs. Quite often the sponsor or coachee themselves suggests to us that we will know best who is likely to be the best fit coach for the new coachee. This choice of coachee is largely based on trust, judgement and respect – initially from the sponsor that it is the right timing and circumstance for the potential coachee to be coached. Then that I or we are the right coaches for them. Then from the new coachee that they feel that they can trust us and that we can probably be the right coach for them. This decision is established and confirmed or not at the first meeting and initial coaching sessions.

So is there a coach out there for everyone? Maybe yes in theory – but only if they are WILLING, as a coachee, to take responsibility, are open minded, able to be honest with themselves and with their coach – and are prepared to search for their answers largely from inside – from their own resources.

Some people are not interested in the concept of opening up their minds to new possibilities and options and do not want to disclose and share their circumstances, thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, issues and plans with a relative stranger working as a new coach with them. Some people are not ready for this yet. Some people don’t have the desire and motivation to put themselves into this coaching relationship. Some doubt or mistrust the process or worry about confidentiality leaks.
For many people they have never had the coaching process suggested to them as a possible option, or haven’t reached the stage in their personal or career development when it felt appropriate for them.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Continuing your success as a Leader

Being a successful leader with valuable leadership skills can a be difficult role to maintain. Success can be a step towards stress and burnout as the pressure of being a high achiever drives us to try even harder. Here are a few ideas to help maintain balance and survive your own success.

1. Learn to relax. Give yourself a break and take time out to relax and enjoy your success – you deserve it!

2. Know your limitations. It’s important to remember that success doesn’t mean perfection. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and trying to be good at everything can water down your impact.

3. Don’t be paralysed by indecision. Decisions lead to consequences and action, but not making decisions will lead to inactivity and organisation paralysis.

4. Give yourself a pat on the back. Leading a team can be a lonely experience and so it’s important to validate yourself. Note down your achievements and read them whenever you can to reinforce successful behaviour.

5. Learn to fail. At some point you will take a “fall” – this is inevitable. However, have confidence in your abilities, learn from it and move on.

6. Be a mentor. Establish yourself as a coach or mentor to others. Some may be jealous of your success as a leader, but by helping them to achieve will reduce their negativity towards you.

7. Don’t micro manage. Your success as a leader will not last if you over control your team’s tasks. It is vital to trust other people to do what you used to do. Delegate and give them freedom to achieve.

8. Have a laugh. A sense of humour is very important, particularly in difficult or stressful times. Being able to smile lifts others and shows your self deprecating style.

Maintaining success as a leader is difficult, but achievable by following these few simple tips. If you wish to find out more about how to be a successful leader try the following books:

  • The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.
  • Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters by Jeffery Somerfield and Andrew Ward.

Developing Leadership and Creative Thinking Skills

Do you wish to improve your leadership and creative thinking skills? Do you or your organisation struggle to come up with new or innovative approaches? If so try out some of the following development ideas listed below. The list is not meant to be exhaustive but if put into practise they will enable you to improve your creative thinking and leadership capability.

· Regularly practice brainteasers to help you get into the habit of challenging your assumptions.

· Approach problems with open mindedness. Use questions such as why, what, where, when, and how when approaching problems.

· Believe you are an innovative person.

· Create time for you and your team to think creatively and in an innovative way. Consider going off site away from day to day distractions and interruptions.

· Critically look at your personal behaviour. How do you promote creativity? Do you use creative techniques in your meetings, such as Brainstorming techniques, 6 Thinking Hats, etc?

· Do you create an environment that encourages rather than criticises new ideas? Think about the last idea a team member came to you with.

- Did you agree with it?

- Did you support it or were you critical?

- What happened to the idea?

Use the insights in to your own behaviour to identify improvements and make a plan.

· In what ways can you reward creativity and innovation in your team? Identify 3 different ways and action them.

· Identify organisations that display excellence in innovation. Arrange visits for yourself and colleagues. Identify 3 actions you can implement in your organisation or function.

· Undertake a SWOT analysis of your function/organisation with your colleagues. Find at least one key recommendation to action.

· Allow yourself quiet time to think and reflect. Plan time in your diary and keep it.

· Read material different from the kind you usually read. Read biographies of great artists, scientists or engineers. What can you learn from them?

Alternatively, if the above ideas don’t give you what you need try reading one of the following books:

· Six Thinking Hats, or Lateral Thinking, by De Bono, Penguin, ISBN: 0140137793

· Learning Maps and Memory Skills: Powerful Techniques to Improve Your Brain Power, by Svantsesson.

· The Creative Edge by Miller.

· The Age of Unreason by Charles Handy.

· How to be Better at Creativity by Petty.