Hire Strategically

What We Can Learn from Television's Fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc.

Have you seen NBC's The Office?

Despite its often-preposterous storyline, I check each Thursday to see whether a new episode will air.

Say what you will about the authenticity of the show, the antics of the cast — employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. (DM), a fictional paper sales company — nearly always get me rolling.

And sometimes DM's dysfunctional corporate culture precipitates some valuable thought. Take the "Lotto" episode, which aired recently. If you didn't see it, here's the plot:

After DM's warehouse employees win the lottery, they up and quit leaving stacks of undelivered paper behind. This presents quite a predicament for former salesman, now manager Andy Bernard. Manager for all of about two months, he must fill the open positions starting from square one and begging for applicants. For whatever reason, poor Andy obviously has no pipeline within DM.

Compare his position to that of many managers in the business world who struggle because their organizations think short-term rather than plan for the big picture. This is especially the case in our unsettling economic climate.

Many organizations hunker down and take shortsighted measures. They freeze hiring, and delay or discontinue training and team development, for example.

But here's the glitch in this strategy: Their employees exaggerate the significance of these measures.

Consider a hiring freeze:

In the short term, a hiring freeze signals that your organization is unhealthy. This causes anxiety and in all likelihood top performers begin looking for other opportunities. Meanwhile, low performers try to look busy so they don't get unmasked.

In the long term, this measure starves your organization of the talent it needs to compete in the future.

Take Long-term View with Strategic Talent Acquisition
Strategic talent acquisition, on the other hand, takes a long-term view. It not only fills positions today, but it fills similar positions in the future. And the most enlightened organizations recruit today for positions that do not even exist today but are expected to become available in the future.

In the end, organizations practicing strategic talent acquisition get better people faster. And they get them at a lower cost.

So let me ask you a question. What better time is there than the present, with your need to compete now and going forward, to focus on strategic talent acquisition to shore up your talent pipeline?

Assuming you've answered "none," you'd be smart (not to imply otherwise) to build your bench strength.

Here's the bottom line: Organizations that consistently seek out talent to meet current and future needs get people suited to their organizations and positions faster, and at a lower cost. Think about DM's Andy and never stop your strategic talent acquisition efforts.

Tips: Five Lessons You Can Use if You Plan to Upgrade Talent with Outside Superstars

Listening to the news these days, you might assume the current economic downturn spells nothing but doom and gloom for businesses.

But the truth is this: Today's economy gives smart companies a golden opportunity to upgrade their talent. With some of the world's largest companies announcing layoffs in the last couple of years, the supply of talented workers is plentiful and affordable.

And so I ask you, why not seize this opportunity to bring superstars on board at your organization?

To get started, identify your future needs by looking at your succession management plan and analyzing the history of attrition for certain positions. Also, consider the Five Lessons for
Upgrading Talent with Outside Superstars, which I discuss below.

These five lessons come from my strategic partner, Profiles International. Over the years, Profiles International has synthesized what it has learned from its clients into five key lessons to help you optimize the upgrading process.

Five Lessons for Upgrading Talent with Outside Superstars

1. Identify your current and future internal stars first.
Why? Because the answer to your needs could be right under your nose and promoting from within is usually less expensive and a lot less risky than hiring from the outside.

So know your people and selectively promote from within where appropriate.

2. Align your hiring decisions with your need for current and future talent. In other words, don't buy a Porsche when you need a minivan. Just as it's easy to become enamored with a high-performance automobile, it's easy to become star struck with a superstar because of reputation or employment history.

The point is this: Understand your current and future needs and then fill those roles with the right people.

3. Temper your expectations; high performance isn’t always portable. Research shows that star performers rely on high quality colleagues to support their own work. As a result, they often have a tough time maintaining their high performance in a new organization. (Further, be aware that the more a position depends on organizational systems, process knowledge and internal relationships, the more likely an internal employee will outperform an outside star.)

So understand that if you do select an outside star performer, he or she will likely require high-quality support and information sharing to maintain star performance.

4. Don’t let eagerness short-circuit your selection process. When a potential superstar interested in joining your organization turns your head, take heed. At a time like this, it’s more important than ever to maintain the integrity of your selection process. If you typically include co-workers in the selection process, do so. If you generally use assessments, use them.

The basic lesson is this: Keep your selection standards job related, validated and standardized. Don’t circumvent your tried and true selection process.

5. Under promise and over deliver. When you hire someone new, especially someone known as a superstar, not everyone will rejoice and problems can arise. Thus temper your enthusiasm, encourage the superstar to be humble and keep all details of the deal strictly confidential. In addition, help your superstar deliver successful results and contribute to your organization quickly.

In other words, when you hire a superstar, don’t create “package envy” and at the same time help your superstar build credibility and trust.

I have posted a white paper on this subject on my website. It will help you drill deeper into each lesson above to guide you through the talent upgrade process and help you avoid common mistakes. Here's the link http://www.mgassessments.com/Free-Whitepaper.aspx if you'd like to download the Five Lessons for Upgrading Talent with Outside Superstars white paper.

Your Solution Toolbox: Get to Know Your Job Candidates with Profiles' Interview Guide

Measuring What Matters

Scientifically valid assessments such as the ProfileXT® (PXT) are inexpensive and highly effective tools to help you quickly determine how well a candidate fits job that you need to fill today or in the future.

I’ve talked with you about the PXT before. It’s our flagship tool. But I have never told you about PXT’s accompanying tool, the Interview Guide.

Studies show that though interviews are an important part of the selection process, most are poorly done.

Organizations use a stock list of interview questions, for example, and standard questions rarely lead interviewers to important information necessary for effectively placing job candidates.

On the other hand, Profiles’ Interview Guide, coupled with the ProfileXT Performance Model
Comparison will help make each interview a valuable tool.

The scientifically developed Performance Model for specific positions reflects a solid understanding of what a job requires. The “total person” information related to this model allows the ProfilesXT® to create interview questions in the form of an Interview Guide that will allow you to get the information you need to make the best possible decision about each candidate.

Here's the link http://www.mgassessments.com/free-interview-sample-guide.aspx if you'd like to see a sample PXT Interview Guide.

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