Category Archives: Talent Management

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How to Identify a Reliable HR Assessment

Whether your HR assessment is intended for pre-hire or for measuring competency, output, or leadership potential in existing employees, it’s crucial that your provider has the capacity to deliver to your needs.

However, with dozens of HR assessment providers on the market, choosing the right one can be difficult. With buzzwords ranging from big data and gamification to smart-analytics, it can be difficult to determine what actually provides value and what a good service looks like.

Reviewing what you need and where is an important first step, but afterwards, you still have to identify which providers can reliably offer a good service that works.

Trademarks of a reliable HR assessment

The following factors will help you when reviewing and selecting your assessment provider, so you can make the best choice for your organization.

History of Success

It goes without saying that any HR assessment you choose for your company should have a proven history of success in other companies. While this doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for your company, having a history of proven success, either through case studies or proven testimonials will give you a reliable indicator of whether the assessment will work.

Measurement Techniques and Validation

No matter what you’re working to assess, your provider should use science-based methods to perform assessments, starting with their base methodology. Most HR assessments begin with job analysis to determine what should be measured and why. A validation study to verify that the selected criterion will work for your organization is also important (although a pre-validated assessment is something to avoid because you can only validate based on specific conditions for your organization) because it will work to ensure that the factors or competencies being looked for or scored actually relate to performance. No assessment will be 100% valid, simply because there are too many factors involved with human performance, so validity is always context specific in how it applies to your business or even your specific role. Despite that, it’s still important to have because it tells you that available data suggests the assessment will benefit your organization.

Research-Based

Any reliable assessment should be based on extensive research that can be shared, proven, and referred to throughout the process. Industrial/Organizational Psychology is the science of behavior in the workplace, and any reliable HR assessment will use it when forming assessments, methods, and when selecting tools.

Personalization

Your specific company needs are likely specific and individual to your organization. For this reason, nearly any HR assessment must be tailored to meet the individual needs of your organization or developed for your company from a base model. For example, your provider will have to adjust how competencies are scored or valued in your company to ensure it suits the specific application in your company.

Ongoing Support

Whether your HR Assessment developer is creating an internal training program and helping you launch the assessment yourself or working with you throughout the process, you need to be certain of ongoing support. Anything can go wrong at any time, and a reliable company will admit to that and offer ongoing support to ensure you have the tools and structure to ensure long-term success.

HR assessments can fit into recruiting, development, performance management, and leadership planning, so the requirements and output of your provider should vary accordingly. However, if your provider is using science-based assessments with good support, personalization or tailoring options, and a reliable history of success, they can likely deliver the value you need.


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Successfully Navigating the Gig Economy

This is a guest post from Dean Burgess. Dean is fascinated by business-minded people, especially entrepreneurs. He loves to learn about the start of their business journey and where they hope to end up.

Technology has changed the way we interact with each other, including how we earn income. Once, your money-earning choices were limited: either find a job working for someone else or go through the harrowing process of starting your own business.

The gig economy has smashed those two options into many choices that resemble self-employment but also retain some of the security and structure of traditional employment. These freelance and remote, gig-based positions provide opportunities for more people to earn money on their terms. The work is not for everyone, but for those willing to organize their lives and put in the work, a flexible and rewarding career is available to all.

The Origins of the Gig Economy

Although these jobs are part of the current economic buzz, the gig economy is not a new concept. The origins of freelancing go far back into the beginning of capitalism. Writers, artisans, and priests adopted a casual, part-time route to earning money in medieval times.

While it seems that writers and other similar jobs such as illustrators and photographers have always worked in less-formal employment arrangements, most jobs became formal full-time positions under a traditional employer-employee model in the 20th century.

Then, technology and lifestyle choices combined to create new options for those looking to make a buck. The number of people who are involved, in one way or another, in “side hustles” has reached 41 million, and it is projected that soon half of the workforce will have some connection to gig work.

From ride-sharing platforms to apps and sites that enable connections between those who want to work and those who need jobs done, technology has helped influence these numbers. People are able to work remotely in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago. The cloud has democratized computing power and storage ability, allowing a laptop and an internet connection to replicate a full-functioned office for many people.

What Is Required for Freelancing Success?

Although technology enables these work opportunities, success requires more than just a laptop. Certain skills are in higher demand than others, such as computer programming and personal services such as pet sitting and dog walking.

Beyond these specific skills, general organization and management skills are necessary. Specific personality traits excel in gigs — you need to be outgoing, risk-tolerant, and self-motivated. When freelancing, you don’t have a boss to drive you, so you can get lost in your deadlines if you do not structure your day.

Learn which skills and behaviors you and your team needs to excel.

Freelance success also requires financial responsibility. You can bring in a large amount of money one week, then nothing the next. Budgeting your income is key; no matter how successful you may be, your cash flow will often be erratic. Financial management is important also because you will be responsible for tax withholding as self-employed.

Creating a Life-Work Balance

While freelancing offers flexibility that many desire, some can find that a too-relaxed atmosphere can lessen their productivity. On the other hand, some remote freelance workers can find that they get fused to their work and never have a break. A sustainable career sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle. One way to maintain a healthy balance between working from home and living a normal life is by setting up a well-organized home office.

Ideally, your home office should be a separate room or area from your house. You’ll need a sanctuary of sorts to handle all of your work. Keep the room or area well-lit and stocked with all the things you need to get your job done.

Once you have a good office setup, it’s a good idea to set office or working hours for yourself. Otherwise, you will find yourself either neglecting work or spending too much time working, risking burnout. If possible, try working outside of your home office once a week or so. This will help fight isolation and can help with business networking.

The gig economy presents several opportunities to make money on your own terms. With some planning and consideration of a home office and organization of your day, you can easily set yourself up for freelancing success.


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How to Measure Core Competencies in Employees

Integrating a competency framework into an organization is one way to improve productivity and create a model with which to measure not just what employees are doing, but how they are doing it. However, before competency frameworks can become valuable, you must have the tools and internal organization to monitor and measure core competencies in employees. This will allow you to determine how employees match up to expectations, rather than simply telling them and checking during end-of-year review.

Top Down Competency Monitoring

Each individual manager must be responsible for monitoring and measuring the competencies of those who work beneath her. Organizing a top-down structure of competency management allows you to put monitoring in the hands of those who work closely with each person on a daily basis.

Managers already do this to some extent, by paying attention to what individuals are producing. Adding competency management simply creates a new level, switching focus from “what” to “What and How”.

Communicating this, as well as what they are looking for in each role, and how to record it, is important for ensuring core competency measurement across the organization.

Measuring Core Competencies

The basis of recording competency data is that managers, their managers, and their managers, must record total behavior and performance during significant incidents, average day-to-day behavior and performance, and total behavior including both positive and negative reactions. Creating role-based competency frameworks then allows managers to map individual behavior to ideal targets.

Identifying Core Competencies

Without a competency framework in place, managers cannot measure employee effectiveness. They must have a framework at an organizational and a role-based level, identifying knowledge, skills, and behaviors that contribute positively to the organization.

Observing

Employees must be observed objectively and without bias, so that only their specific actions and behaviors are recorded. Most competency measurement begins by recording average behavior, and then settles on recording behavior during crucial moments such as during large projects, moments of stress, etc., and then any marked changes from standard behavior. Providing managers with a template or program to record this data into is essential.

Measuring Significance

It is important to measure the significance of incidents and behavior changes. For example, if an employee is performing poorly, but have recently been involved in an accident or lost a loved one, the change could be marked up to trauma and not to a change in personality. The significance of changes in behavior can also be mapped according to the impact that behavior has on output, on other parts of the organization, and on customers.

Benchmarking

By identifying the normal behavior for individual employees over time, you can benchmark their data to create standards based on behavior. This will then allow you to identify over and under achievers inside the same role, to identify personal improvement in individual employees, and to mentor and improve others to reach the same standards.

Measuring core competencies allows you to better assess and develop individual performance by defining how successful work is completed. This in turn allows you to recognize, develop, and reward that behavior.


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Organizational vs. Technical and Behavioral Competencies

If you’re introducing a competency model or framework into performance management and hiring, it’s important to understand organizational and technical or behavioral competencies. Each have an important role in your business, and are crucial for hiring and performance management. But, each must be measured differently in order to properly manage performance.

What are Organizational Competencies?

Organizational competencies are core competencies defining what the company does best and how it expects that to be accomplished. Most organizations define 15-25 competencies that define how employees are expected to act as a whole, and common traits that everyone must have in order to succeed. These remain the same across the organization.

Common organizational competencies include:

  • Agility
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Integrity
  • Customer centricity
  • Strategic perspective
  • Resilience
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Personal leadership

These traits define a culture of behavior and competencies which ensure that employees are able to meet the behavior and competency expected by the company.

Technical and Behavioral Competencies

Technical and behavioral competencies, also known as individual competencies, must be defined on a role level and applied to individuals. These competencies define the skills and behavioral traits required to succeed in individual roles and must be defined accordingly.

Here, you define both technical competencies or hard skills and knowledge and behavioral competencies, such as behaviors and traits that allow a person to be successful.

Technical Competencies – Technically competencies are what a person can do. They define hard skills, specific knowledge, and what a person can do. For example, an IT role would need someone with a strong knowledge of system security, specific software or platforms you use, and so on. But, they would also need specific behaviors if they were to be successful in that role.

Behavioral Competencies – Behavioral competencies define how an individual performs in their role. Organizational competencies are broad and high level, but behavioral competencies define individual behaviors that apply to the role. For example, an IT person might need attention to detail, empathy, quick-thinking, problem solving, and a good memory to be able to perform well in their role.

Defining competencies and how they apply to both the role and the organization is a crucial part of developing a competency model. Both are important, but in different ways, and each are crucial to a good competency model. Individual competencies must be defined as technical and behavioral and organizational competencies must apply to every employee across the company.


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Benefits of Using Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks allow you to establish behavior and skills needed to perform well in your organization and in specific roles. This enables you to define what good work looks like at every level of the organization, highlighting both how the company works and how good work is performed by individuals. More importantly, a good competency framework defines both what an employee can do and how they do it, so that you create a solid process to define work.

However, the process of creating and integrating competency frameworks can be intimidating, long, and costly. If you’re considering competency-based hiring or performance management, you need to know that it will have a payoff. While the actual value of competency frameworks depends on their quality and how they are integrated, there are numerous benefits for organizations. From recruiting to assessment to performance management to succession planning, competency frameworks play a big role in the businesses that use them.

3 big competency framework benefits

Defining Success

Competency frameworks allow you to define success in a role and in your organization. If you can highlight the behaviors that are necessary to succeed in your company, you can streamline hiring. And, if you’ve defined what success looks like in each role and function of your organization, you can improve hiring and performance management. In short, you give your company a map for job expectations, career paths, and performance measurement by which you can measure, reward, and promote workers.

Improving Processes

When you know what you are looking for, when you know what target capabilities and skills to look for, and when you have identified behaviors that perform well in your role, you can improve hiring as well as internal processes and even succession planning. Any employee-based program is automatically based on the existing framework, helping you to set targets, define goals, and better define candidates. This also speeds up processes, because rather than redefining what is needed from a candidate each time and getting leaders to agree on targets, they’re already there.

Setting Clear Expectations

Using a competency framework allows you to define what is expected from employees, which will in turn, improve communication and performance. By defining competencies, you can:

  • Ensure that training and professional development is target based and productive
  • Offers employees a way to measure and improve their competencies while improving mobility
  • Track employee growth and competency improvement
  • Improve communication between management and the workforce by clarifying job standards and creating channels for constructive feedback
  • Set clear expectations for employees while creating a mechanism for recognizing high performers

Competency frameworks can allow you to recruit the right people and manage and ensure that the right people stay in roles where they are needed, while growing and measuring the success of workers. Competency frameworks can tie into every aspect of recruitment and performance management, as well as succession and pipeline planning – because you have the tools to measure, reward, and improve on the successes of your best employees.


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How Competency Frameworks Tie Into Employee Monitoring and Quality Assurance

Competency frameworks are increasingly integrated into organizational performance management to measure not only what employees do but also how they do it. This same data can be integral in creating a culture of management and quality assurance, by better defining what success looks like – so that managers have the tools to shift focus away from procedure and tradition and towards efficiency and meeting quality standards.

While this requires a certain level of competency from leaders, it also allows you to take steps to measure and verify the quality of work being completed using information already at your disposal.

Using Competency Frameworks for Monitoring

An organization’s competency framework is developed around both the skills and knowledge needed to complete tasks for a role and the behavior and attitudes required to perform well in the role. Actual monitoring is typically achieved using a 3-part process of watching and observing, benchmarking and actively using data, and offering feedback.

  • Assign managers to consistently monitor worker behavior over time
  • Benchmark data to establish performance norms, both for individuals and for roles (you can use this to identify high performers, when performance goes up/down, and to target those who are struggling inside the organization)
  • Make monitoring about both noting behaviors shown in key situations, such as when decision-making, learning, or meeting deadlines and offering real-time feedback and goal-oriented motivation.

Good Behavior Means Quality Work

The core of any competency framework is to either improve productivity or improve the quality of productivity. While some organizations lose sight of tying competencies to direct output such as organizational goals, production, or performance, your definition of good behavior should be those traits and behaviors which directly contribute to organizational goals, including quality.

  • Ensure that competencies are tied to performance (if you don’t have competencies tying into performance and direct organizational benefit, they will not help the company).
  • Establish competencies which directly tie into quality control (Asking for help, focuses on creating quality work, technically skilled, seeks out feedback and constructive criticism, flexibility, establishes clear work processes, etc.)
  • Monitor performance output with competencies to verify that the competencies in place line up with actual quality of work produced

Focusing Learning and Development on Competencies

While competency frameworks are valuable in assessing and identifying good work and behavior, they are also valuable for identifying competency gaps. Many organizations using competency models also offer competency training to help bridge gaps to allow employees to work to improve problem areas so that they can contribute more to the organization.

While competency frameworks are valuable at performance review, a well-integrated model offers those same benefits throughout the year, tying into ongoing employee monitoring and quality assurance


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Promoting Corporate Entrepreneurship with Competency Frameworks

The world is increasingly dynamic and flexible. Technology changes at a rapid pace. Organizations must increasingly be just as flexible and fast-paced to keep up. This is evident in the success of edgy entrepreneurial corporations like Uber and Bonobos, who went from nothing, to major corporations poised to take on the biggest traditional company. Corporate entrepreneurship is the process of promoting internal entrepreneurship, so that employees have the freedom and confidence to create efficiencies and new working methods for themselves – therefore improving the organization as a whole.

Competency frameworks can allow you to recognize and promote the behavior and freedoms contributing to this behavior.

Identifying and Encouraging Entrepreneurial Competencies

Competency frameworks work to identify specific behavior which contributes to entrepreneurial thinking. For example, you can highlight where behaviors like risk taking, trying new things, adaptability, and creative problem-solving come together to create new solutions and ideas.

By highlighting what contributes to a corporate culture of entrepreneurism, you can encourage it, reward it, and ensure that individuals have the operational freedom to make changes to how they work. This also requires self-motivation, a willingness to learn, and the ability to adjust and take small steps.

Failing Forward

Failing Forward is the concept that you have to fail before you can succeed. By allowing employees to fail, you can create a culture of constant small failures leading to big successes. For example, by allowing teams to try and do new things, even when they don’t necessarily succeed – you give everyone the opportunity to take small steps and test them at every step of the way to reduce risk – while having the ability to fail.

This risk-taking behavior can be extremely beneficial in a controlled environment, because developing new work methods, new tools, and new processes is increasingly important for organizations to even keep up with the competition. This requires an increased level of risk-acceptance behavior on an individual level, so that employees can try new things without risk of reprisal if they fail (providing they get approval first) and can look forward to a reward if they succeed.

Measuring Success

While many HR tactics have been used to build corporate entrepreneurship, many of those methods lack a solid way to measure success. When you allow failure, what does success look like? Competency frameworks allow you to define the behavior, attitudes, and product that lead to success. How? A person who is taking risks and trying new things isn’t necessarily doing so with the benefit of the entire company in mind. By identifying the total factors that play into success, such as keeping the total impact on the entire organization in mind, focusing on day-to-day work as well as long-term goals (a person spending all their time optimizing a process isn’t performing their job), and self-improvement which includes the ability to accept and give constructive criticism, you can identify what actually makes this behavior work.

Risk acceptance and encouraging individual contribution are the two primary factors playing into successfully increasing corporate entrepreneurship, and competency frameworks give you the tools to encourage, measure, and quantify risk-taking behavior, motivation, self-improvement and development, and the behaviors which add to total employee contributions to the organization.


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How HR Can Help to Build Trust in the Workplace

This is a guest post from Laura Greene. Laura is one of the content managers for TrustedEmployees – creative people who provide employment screening solutions to organizations of all kinds through personalization, innovation, and dedication.

In 2014, Interaction Associates conducted a poll on “Building workplace trust: Trends and high performance.” Part of the poll involved Interaction Associates interviewing employees and asking them questions about levels of trust in the workplace. Some of the results were quite shocking. Understandably, 80% of employees reported that they needed to trust their co-workers and boss in order to perform well at their job.

However, it was found that over 50% of employees didn’t trust their boss and 54% had no trust in their company. By these statistics, most employees reportedly feel as though they are unable to perform effectively due to lack of trust in the workplace.Trust is the foundation of any relationship- without it, the relationship cannot survive.

If this trend of employee distrust continues, it could ruin entire companies. So what is the solution? To the surprise of many, the solution may be Human Resources.

It’s no secret that HR isn’t the most popular sector of the company. While many employees may show signs of distrust towards Human Resources, it may, ironically, be the answer to eradicating distrust in the workplace. Human Resources has more power than many employees realize. They know everything about everyone and keep tabs on employees to ensure that they are doing their jobs so that the company can run smoothly.

How exactly can Human Resources help to build trust in the workplace? We’re sharing 3 practical ways to achieve workplace security and trust.

How HR can help build trust in the workplace

Place emphasis on confidentiality

If the goal is to increase trust in the workplace, HR has to lead by example. While it’s true that Human Resources employees are part of the workplace, too, they must navigate this role while also keeping in mind that they are part of the team that safeguards employee confidentiality.

For example, if a HR employee shared details about another employee that was meant to be kept private, employees that hear this gossip won’t feel safe sharing their own information with Human Resources.

On the flipside, if an employee sees an HR employee who is strict about keeping employee information confidential, they will feel much more comfortable sharing with Human Resources; they will also trust their coworkers and boss more because they won’t have to worry about them knowing their personal information.

Thus, employees will follow suit and gossip less about coworkers’ private lives because they can see this “rule” being upheld by HR.

Be genuine

HR must be trustworthy if they want employees to trust them. In addition to prioritizing confidentiality, Human Resource employees need to show genuine care and concern for employees.

If HR is proactive about building trusting relationships with employees and is passionate about advocating for them, employees will be able to confidently place their trust in HR.

By proving that they genuinely care about the well-being of employees, employees will feel more comfortable in the workplace and more trusting of their own employees and boss because they know that HR has their back should any issues arise.

Don’t pick favorites

When you were in elementary school, you knew who the teacher’s favorites were. Even if the teacher didn’t explicitly state this, you could tell by how they acted towards certain students that they liked those ones more than the rest of the class.

It’s not a good feeling to be left out, is it? That fact remains true well into adulthood.

If Human Resource employees spend all of their time with just two or three employees, other employees will likely feel left out and become suspicious. The employees that clearly aren’t the “favorites” will, understandably, begin to question why HR spends so much time with only a few employees and will wonder what it is they talk about- particularly whether or not they themselves are the subject of office gossip.

By picking favorites, HR could completely ruin employee confidence. In order to instill trust in HR and others in the workplace, HR needs to build personal relationships with every employee and treat all employees equally, both in and out of the office.

If Human Resources uses their power and influence correctly, they can create a workplace environment that is based upon high levels of trust between employees and coworkers, as well as employees and bosses. By prioritizing confidentiality, always being genuine and avoiding favoritism, employees will be able to see that HR is on their side.

When employees can see that Human Resources exists to support them, ensure that they are comfortable in their work environment and encourage them to do their best work, they’re more likely to be more trusting. If they are fair and honest, Human Resources has the transformative power to make an incredibly positive change in the workplace.


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Cultural indicators of good leadership in an organization

Great leaders are an asset to any organization for the influence and effectiveness they inspire. When your business’ leaders act with the right skills and utilize good techniques to make an impact, the results shine through in an organization’s culture.

Leaders should be able to establish a clear vision throughout the company, communicate seamlessly, and resolve conflict well.

When your business’ leaders act with the right skills and utilize good techniques to make an impact, the results shine through in an organization’s culture.

Here are a few ways your culture will reflect good leadership, so you can tell whether you have the right people spearheading your efforts.

Cultural indicators of good leadership

Your team members have the right attitude

The best managers lead by example, and demonstrate professionalism, accountability, focus on detail, and honesty, among other important behaviors. They also reward their team members when they demonstrate those attitudes, encouraging preferred responses in different situations.

Your team has a shared vision

Good leaders clarify expectations for productivity and results. They communicate the value of each individual’s work, and align employees’ goals as they realize how their roles contribute to larger organizational goals.

Tip: Ask your team for feedback on strategy items so they can see their input has an influence on the organization itself.

Your employees don’t shirk away from accountability

Great leaders understand the value of accountability. They accept blame when things go wrong, instead of pinning it on an employee down the line. This behavior should be reflected in your employees. If they make a mistake, they will acknowledge it immediately and try to fix it instead of trying to hide and hope no one will notice.

Your team remains motivated and interested in their work

Employees are motivated by their work when good leaders maintain good working relationships with them, and understand their intrinsic drivers. Good leaders keep an eye out for causes of dissatisfaction and act quickly when something drains the morale of their team.

The bottom line is that great leaders influence the values of an organization for the better, so it’s important to develop leaders who are well-equipped with professionalism, motivation, and vision.


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How job classification can help you structure your company

Job classification is an important part of the HR process, not only because it allows you to recognize and describe job roles, but also because classification can be essential to organizational structure. Most job classification systems evaluate job components to determine their relevance and relative value, both comparative to other similar roles outside the organization, and those inside the organization.

While job classification systems vary, this enables you to use information that is already available to build hierarchy, pay structures and compensation, and channels for advancement.

The Value of a Role Inside an Organization

Job classification works to define the structure of a job as well as its value to the organization, through a process of job evaluation, where the value, responsibilities, and impact of each role is reviewed.

This means they are typically classified based on multiple contributing factors such as authority and autonomy, complexity of work, consequences of error, scope, and responsibility.

  • Freedom and Autonomy – Is work performed under strict guidance and policy, or left up to the employee?
  • Complexity of Role – How complex are skills required, problems, and depth of knowledge or expertise?
  • Consequences of Error – What is the impact if a mistake is made?
  • Scope – What is the total scope of the role? How does it spread across departments or teams? Is it significant to a specific department?
  • Responsibilities – What is the role supervising? How much? How difficult is it? (resources, people, tools, etc.)
  • Communication – Who is the employee communicating with, what are they communicating, and how often?

Hierarchy and Organizational Structure

In terms of hierarchy, this kind of ‘broadband’ classification enables you to create an upward structure, where employees can be reclassified into new roles when they take on more responsibilities. By recognizing all the components, you can easily evaluate if an employee’s added value changes as their role does.

As a result, you can reward skill and thought leaders, who take on large responsibilities such as no margin for error or managing large workspaces – versus only promoting and rewarding management.

Salary Grade

A comprehensive job classification system makes it easier to determine the appropriate salary grade or pay scale for an employee – even a new one – based on the components and value of their role. For example, the United States Human Resources Department of California uses a job classification system in which many roles are divided into levels A, B, and C, enabling them to recognize seniority in responsibilities and tasks, even in what is otherwise the same role. In turn, this also helps to remove instances of discrimination, because anyone contributing at the same level should receive the same pay across the organization.

Performance and Appraisal

Identifying job roles and impact makes it easier for managers and supervisors to handle performance reviews. By reviewing expected added value, managers can compare actual output to more easily identify high and low performers. Similarly, creating a broad job classification system assists with career and succession planning as well as recruitment by defining what is expected at each level or class.

A job classification system is an investment, but it contributes to organizational structure in numerous ways. From aiding in recruitment to helping with salary and performance, properly defined job classification simplifies and improves structural management.


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