Friday 5 August 2011

Need employee commitment? Start with competencies.

You’ve just spent weeks advertising, interviewing and assessing candidates for a position and you’ve finally made the hiring decision. You bring your new hire on board, put them through orientation, build them a learning plan, start their training and—3 months in—they quit!
Regardless of size or sector, most organizations have, at some point, experienced a “bad hire,” and in doing so have paid dearly for a seemingly routine hiring. Many of today’s organizations are fully aware of the high price they pay for employee turnover. What they don’t know, is how to combat the loss.

Retention initiatives usually take place after the fact, in an attempt to hold on to existing employees through initiatives like workplace wellness programs, career development and competitive compensation and benefits. While these initiatives are key to maintaining a positive and sustainable relationship between employer and employee, they will not be successful in retaining an employee who does not “fit” into the organization, is not happy on the job, or lacks certain motivational characteristics that could have been identified right from the start.

Attracting and selecting the right talent in the first place is paramount to retaining employees further down the road. In practice, this means implementing sound, valid and reliable recruitment and selection processes that directly assess the behaviours relevant to success on the job and within the organization. Most managers are able to articulate their needs for and select candidates with the right professional and technical skills. Where they often fall short, however, is in selecting for those “softer” skill sets that can “make or break” the organization. Employees’ interpersonal and communication styles can play as important (if not more important) a role as their technical and professional skills and qualifications. The challenge for most managers in the selection process, however, is to gain an accurate reading of the competencies of candidates in these “softer” skill areas. This is where Competency-based Selection comes to the rescue.

Traditional interview approaches focus on discussing the candidate’s previous experience for the purpose of gaining an impression of his/her accomplishments without pre-defining the expected behaviour required for success on the job, or seeking evidence that the candidate actually demonstrated the skill in doing the work. An example of such an interview question is: “What experience do you have in customer service?” In addition, too much reliance is placed on the candidate’s self-perception or opinion by asking questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? How would your friends describe you?” These questions do not directly assess candidate behaviour that is relevant to success on the job.

This post is based on content from 'Estimating the Cost of a Bad Hire' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

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