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The Business Forum Journal


Hire Right and Manage Smart

By Janie Telischak


In a tight job market it’s not just difficult to hire - it’s also hard to keep your top performing employees.  Loyalty is no longer the name of the game.  Today good employees are more likely to move to the best job opportunity.  Businesses face two difficult challenges:

  • How do you hire the right person for the job?  

  • How do you keep the good performers?

“It’s key for both large and small companies to understand the critical success factors of hiring, promoting and retaining their people,” says a president of a local Washington state consulting firm.  “Employees can be your biggest asset or your biggest liability.”

The New Hiring Game

How can employers hire right and manage smart?  The traditional ways just aren’t working any more.  In fact, a Harvard Business Study revealed that the chances of a successful hire using the traditional “interview and resume” method are about 1 in 14.  Employers already know that this process is time-consuming, expensive and results are often questionable.  So how can employers hire right? 

Available now is an “assessment tool box” to assist large and small companies hire right and manage smart.  Most are Windows based and easy to use, compatible with any computer environment.  Job testing has been around for a long time.  With the new sophistication of assessments, employers can now answer these kinds of questions before they hire:

  • Does this person have the ability to do the job, even if the job changes?  

  • Is this person going to do what it takes for this job?  

  • Will this person fit my company and my customers?  

But there’s another new twist the old science of “aptitude testing" - it’s called “job fit.”  Assessment tools worth their salt can automatically build customized success patterns or benchmarks for any job.  Employers can now know why it is that some of the people they hire perform at extraordinary levels while others, who appear to be equally qualified, are only average performers.  By using benchmarks, businesses can match the right person to the right job.  It’s like cloning your star employees.

“Assessment tools can tell you whether the candidate is a good ‘job fit’, says an executive officer at a nation-wide search firm.  “We won’t present candidates to our client companies unless they taken a validated, reliable assessment.  Our clients love the report -- it helps them separate the “better” candidate from the “best” candidate for the job.  Additionally, it helps the hiring manager know how to effectively manage and retain the new employee.”

Assessment tools are a critical part of any companies tool box.  They can make selection and hiring less painful and more successful.

Managing Right

Hiring smart isn’t the only factor in people productivity.  Once you’ve hired, how do you keep your good performers?  How can managers lead, delegate, coach, evaluate their people - not to mention getting business results and dealing effectively with their customers?  In a recent American Society of Training and Development survey, managers were asked:  “What issues take up most of your time during the day?”  The overwhelming answer was “people or team related issues.”

Today’s “assessment tool box” has tools that can help.  Managers no longer have to spend time trying to sort out people issues - a good assessment can do it for them.  Such tools even suggest a variety of solutions to the problem.  Managers can now re-focus their efforts on the customer and the business.  Some typical assessment resources in your workforce toolbox should include:

Team Tools

Putting an effective team together is much more than assigning people to work on a project.  A team analysis tool will lessen the personality conflicts that drain teams of energy and slow results.  Team assessment tools suggest work strategies that increase the likelihood of team success.

A Kent, Washington manufacturing firm used a team analysis tool when building a critical “problem solving” team.  The vice president of operations, sponsor of the team, said:  “The team analysis told us we didn’t have enough members with high analytic skills.  That would have been a disaster considering the problem we were facing.  We shifted team membership and the team’s solution was incredible.  The customer loved it and we gained some major points.”

Team tools can also help when existing teams aren’t working.  An assessment tool will automatically identify problem areas and offer solutions.  As a manager, team leader or team member, this information is vital to success. Effective teams can achieve objectives such as cutting costs, improving productivity, meeting quality control standards, just to mention a few.  And when a team wins, everybody wins.

Individual Development Tools

Assessment tools also provide insights and information about individual employees:  how quickly they learn, deal with change and conflict, receive feedback, etc.  This information can clarify a manager’s strategy and help the manager deal with the individual more effectively.  Assessment reports suggest new ways to coach the employee, and present a picture of his/her potential growth and development in the organization.  Managers let the assessment tools diagnose and suggest solutions -- they can then spent time helping direct reports grow and develop.

Some tools focus on specific job competencies.  The latest in assessment tools is geared toward Customer Service.  The assessment identifies people who have the natural behavioral traits for great customer service.  The tool also suggests coaching approaches, training suggestions and even flags customer service reps who may have a tendency to “over-commit” to the customer.

Call Center assessment tools identify and help hire employees who fit the very unique “call  center culture.”  Where retention rate is low, assessments can help companies hire people who are well-suited to the work, either inbound or outbound.  Employees who are a good fit perform better, are more reliable and they stay with the company longer.  And you just can’t get this information from references, resumes or interviews.

Assessments can even support an organization’s succession planning strategy.  If you know that some people can deal with change better than others or have stronger problem solving skills, you can better place them in your organization.  In this way, they benefit the business and remain challenged and happy employees. 

Management Development Tools

The “assessment tool box” also provides a way for supervisors, team leaders and managers to develop themselves.  One of the hottest professional development tools is referred to as “the 360.”  A 360 tool provides feedback on critical factors for effective managerial performance.  Direct reports, boss, peers, customers — even the managers themselves complete a survey form.  The completed forms are then sent to an outside processing center to ensure confidentiality or handled anonymously on a web site.  A customized feedback report is sent to the manager comparing perceptions from different work-place sources and prioritizing development needs. 

Using a good 360 instrument is “managing right.”  Perhaps for the first time, managers can quantify their competencies, verify the results from a variety of perspectives and identify ways to improve.  Organizations that use a 360 effectively can positively impact retention, productivity and business results.

Things to Look Out For 

Investing in assessment technology requires some homework.  Here are some things to consider:

  • What Human Resource/Business strategy will the assessment support or enable?

  • What’s the best way to introduce this into the organization?  

  • Who administers the process, HR, business units or individual managers?  

  • When will assessments be a requirement or optional?  

  • What best: a web-based assessment, on-line or stored on a local drive?  

  • What’s the best way for the test to be administered:  on-line or paper and pencil?

  • Is the assessment reliable and valid?  Has it been tested?  Is there a technical manual that describes the testing process and the results?

  • Can the assessment be used for hiring?  

  • Does it meet the criteria set by the ADA, EEOC and Civil Rights Act?  

Decide what best meets your organization’s requirements.  The choices are varied and you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.


An “assessment tool box” is key to hiring smart and managing right.  The tight job market makes the tool box even more critical, but any company that plans to successfully compete in the new millennium should take advantage of what assessment technology has to offer.

Janie Telischak’s career encompasses all aspects of training and facilitation - from design & development to delivery.  She has managed training organizations responsible for design and implementation of programs for customers, sales representatives and management.  Since 1994, Janie’s work has focused on curricula development and delivery for quality and management training.  Her work included the technical aspects of quality such as process improvement, cycle time and problem solving.  She also has considerable experience working with management teams to facilitate strategic planning, transformational change and 360 feedback.

Janie’s 18 year career with Xerox provided her with an excellent background.  Ms. Telischak was part of the Xerox corporate team responsible for the TQM landmark program called “Leadership Through Quality.”  Additionally she has developed and delivered award-winning courses in benchmarking, business process management, cycle time reduction and root cause analysis.  Janie Telischak has academic credentials from University of California, Stanford University, Yale University, and Universite de Bordeaux.  Ms. Telischak is an independent consultant.

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