How do the world’s most respected organisations with cutting-edge HR expertise select new staff and determine who to invest in to meet clearly defined succession plans?
People asking these types of questions quickly reach the logical next step of whether they can replicate absolute best practice into their own businesses, and we have been fortunate enough to work with two such organisations this spring, whose approach we can share with you here.
Absolute best practice in selection and development is based on the simple tenant that the more objective measures you put into assessing candidates, the stronger the selection decision, and the more you uncover on what you will need to do to get new and promoted staff from ‘good to great’. The assessment measures that we are talking about are widely used globally, but very infrequently applied in New Zealand, but we are slowly gaining ground in their introduction and acceptance.
In short, while interviews involve talking about skills and behaviours, assessment exercises require candidates to put their money where their mouth is and demonstrate they are everything their CV suggests through practical exercises.
Case Study-1 Stepping up into a first staff-management role
Scenario: Our client had a preferred candidate whose technical and industry experience exceeded everything they desired. However, the role also required the job holder to manage a team of twelve staff, some of whom had historically been difficult to motivate and engage, and the candidate had no experience of managing others at work or in extra-curricular activities.
The candidate’s personality profile suggested more positives than concerns in managing and motivating others, but the client wanted more evidence before making their decision on whether to appoint.
Solution: A staff management exercise was added to the selection process, where the candidate was required to prepare for and then conduct a staff performance interview with a role-player direct report whose previously good performance had fallen off with negative effects on the organisation, team colleagues and customers.
The exercise was aimed at the same sector as the client and with variable outcomes and responses from the role player depending on how the candidate handled this sensitive situation.
Result: The preferred candidate was able to demonstrate skills and abilities of handling sensitive staff situations without losing sight of the goals of the organisation, with their role-play performance observed by the hiring manager. By backing up the evidence gathered from the interview, reference checks and personality profile, hiring managers the confidence and peace of mind to make a job offer.
This result was largely achieved by using an exercise that was tried and tested in reliably measuring the competencies associated with effective staff management, and then delivering it through qualified and seasoned assessors and role-players. Making your own role-play is as effective as making your own BMW or i-Phone.
Case Study-2 Dealing with Workload Volume, Ambiguity, Conflicting Priorities & Multiple Stakeholders
Scenario: A public sector client had shortlisted several private sector candidates for a role that reflected their career strengths to date, but would require a significant step up to deal with the volume, complexity and competing demands from numerous professions, as well as developing and delivering strategic priorities. In other words , the role was seen as pivotal in the success of the organisation.
As with case-study-1, candidates personality profiles and initial interviews suggested they had the traits associated with success in the role, but the selection panel needed more tangible evidence.
Solution: An In-Tray/Inbox Exercise was added to the selection criteria. Candidates were given 90 minutes in which to pick up the workload of a colleague in a similar role to the one they were applying for. Of the thirty items in that in-tray, some were of no significance, whilst others had potentially catastrophic implications if not dealt with immediately. Others had subtle knock-on effects and were interrelated in their source and risk.
Candidates then had to present their findngs and recommendations to the selection panel, and respond to questions and challenges to those recommendations. In other words, walk the talk in demonstrating they could do the job.
Result: Some candidates fell a long was short of the benchmark and none met the selection criteria completely. However, the client selection panel were able to identify a candidate whose gaps in desired performance level were seen to be ‘trainable’ and outweighed by several very strong capabilities that were not visible from interview or reference check.
A job offer was negotiated, with a clear agreed development plan to address the shortfall, and a successful appointment followed, with employer and new employee entering their employment relationship with their eyes wide open.
What can your business gain from this approach?
Adding assessment exercises to the mix is the surest way to quickly raise the standard of recruitment and development as close to perfect as possible. When candidates are required to demonstrate they can do the job rather than just talk about it at an interview, the quality of the selection decision can only go up.
Exercises range from sales meetings, to scheduling factory operations and negotiating key contracts, and are pitched at every job level.
People Central Ltd have access to the largest range of tried and tested assessment exercises in the world and have used them for eleven years in organisations as diverse as CEO appointments into public health-care bodies to graduate recruitment programmes into major banks.