Hiring for H.E.A.R.T.

The good news is that it appears more jobs are being created... the bad news is it appears more jobs are being created! Every day I read employers are going to experience a “War on Talent” as evidenced by employees not being “engaged.” Reports show as many as 66% of employees are “dis-engaged” with their organization and actively taking measures to make a change. In a recent Oi Partners survey, 90% of employers are concerned about losing high potential employees. Identifying, recruiting and developing talent is a key initiative for many organizations. The key is to find candidates that not only can “do” the job, but also are a cultural fit for the organization. I am a firm believer in fixing the problem as opposed to treating the symptom. So, how do you go about building employee engagement? Let’s start at the beginning, with your recruiting strategy.

Employee Engagement defined... "an employee's involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work.”


Employee engagement starts from the first contact made with your organization. Whether with an internal recruiter, an external recruiter, or the cumbersome applicant tracking system which may be in place, the level of future engagement is based on the first impression the candidate has with your organization. The interview and selection process builds on that level of engagement... or detracts from it! Make sure that first impression is a positive one and continues to get better from that point on. The on-going “recruiting relationship” needs to be coordinated and managed, not assumed or taken for granted because the number of candidates. Many recruiters try to “screen out” candidates as opposed to finding the right “culture” fit for the organization. Although screening for the proper skill set is important, the screening for the culture fit is equally important. The cost of turnover is too high not to do so! Without turning this into a behavioral based interviewing training, I look at HEART as part of the decision making process... Honesty, Energy, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork. Honesty... probably the most important characteristic that I look for in candidates. Not only to make sure that they will not “steal,” but also to confirm that their integrity is such that they are going to do what they say they are going to do. Of course the big assumption here is that “honesty” is a characteristic that your organization values by your behaviors, actions, and how you treat employees. Energy... I know this may ruffle a few feathers as some people equate “energy” with youth, therefore it might seem to be a potential discriminatory action. On the contrary... I look for the positive energy, attitude, excitement that a candidate will bring to the table. To me, it is important to find that type of individual who, when they walk into a room people feel the difference. These are candidates who smile, look at you in the eye and are engaging in their conversation. Bottom line, these are leaders and candidates that exhibit and demonstrate confidence and as Stephen Covey has said… moral, not formal authority. Accountability... using proven behavioral interviewing techniques, this is probably the easiest to probe for as you interview candidates. Going into detail as to how they managed projects, teams, budgets, etc. will help you understand how accountable they were in the past. What I try to find is how accountable are they with their actions. Success or failure, I want to know if they “own it” or point a finger at others. This is especially important in a leadership role where their behaviors will be modeled by others. Respect... how someone gets along with others is important as you bring on a new team member. Disagreements are going to happen in organizations, how someone handles them will say a lot about their character. Also important is how an individual will respect a goal or vision of the organization. Upon making a decision, will they support it or sabotage it? Teamwork... as with any team, everyone has a role to play within the structure. Not everyone can be the star and get the accolades. When I coached little league football, I always told the offensive line that “if it was not for them, the QB would have not scored a touchdown.” You want to hire individuals who accept roles and responsibilities for the good of the team. How they communicate with others, how they support others who need help and even how they celebrate a team’s success. As a leader, it is up to you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team and assign initiatives based on their ability to perform. The hiring of a new employee can be the most important decision you can make for your organization. With turnover costing approximately two times salary… bad hiring decisions will have a definite financial impact on your organization and your ability to execute initiatives. The recruiting and hiring process is like a jig saw puzzle and it is up to the organization to identify the desired skill set, determine the relevant experience/education, assess for competencies and then... determine the cultural fit. With the right team in place, your organization will move much more quickly towards your goals.

Your Turn

What do you base your hiring decisions on? I would love to hear your comments! Hiring for H.E.A.R.T image from Shutterstock

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