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Aimed at corporate employers, especially those who make use of recruitment and staffing companies. Great articles, advice and issues of general interest to HR managers and others involved in talent recruitment, selection and retention.


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Cyber Snooping

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

Cyber snooping... legitimate screening method, or a step too far?

In a recent survey conducted by Reppler, a social media monitoring service designed to help users manage their online image across different social networks, it is clear that more and more recruiters and HR professionals are screening candidates via social media.

Is this a legitimate screening method or simply cyber snooping?

Whether you believe it’s right or not, the survey shows that 91% of the 300 recruiters surveyed confirmed that they screen prospect employees online, using FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn as their primary snooping grounds.

Interestingly, nearly half indicated that they would conduct the online search before considering bringing in the candidate and 69% admitted to rejecting a candidate based on their findings, making it even more critical that individuals hoping to secure new job opportunities maintain their social media profiles at all times.

The top reasons for rejecting candidates included:

·         Inappropriate photos and comments, especially those alluding to drink/drug abuse

·         Negative comments, or leaked information about a previous employer

·         Admitted lying about qualifications, experience or other critical information


Of course, the tool also has had a positive impact with an equal number of respondents saying that they hired someone on the basis of their social media profile. In these cases, the primary motivating factors for hiring included:

·         Positive impression of their personality/culture fit to the employer organisation

·         Profile reaffirmed their professional traits including qualification, knowledge, skills and references


How do you ensure that you’re working within the scope of the law?


If you, like the majority of recruiters, want to do as much vetting as possible on candidate, then you need to be sure that you do so within the bounds of the law and ethical practice. Below are 10 tips to help you.


1.   Only search public content. Information that is available in the public domain may be reasonably accessed by anyone, including recruiters or potential employers.  Never expect a candidate to provide access details to their social media profiles as this would definitely fall foul of ethical and legal requirements. In fact, due to the increasing number of employers expecting this of potential employees, a specific law forbidding this exact practice was recently passed in the US.


2.   Comply with terms of service for each social media site. Just because the information is publicly accessible doesn’t mean that you are legally entitled to use it. Do your research on the various sites’ requirements and base your social media screening policy on this.


3.   Keep your “Ethics Radar” on. All actions should be able to be held up to the highest ethical standards and the scrutiny of your client and candidate. It is, for example, never okay to try and conduct a search via the “back door” such as “friending” the person or joining their network for the sole intention of snooping.


4.   Search in a uniform manner. If you’re going to make this part of your recruitment screening process, be sure to do so uniformly for all candidates, including using the same search tools and canvassing the same sites.


5.   Develop a clear policy and procedure. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Take on board the research into the various site requirements and document the policy and procedures you’d follow. This will ensure transparency, uniformity and mitigate risk.


6.   Notify candidates of your intention to search this way. Give candidates the opportunity to update their profile settings to private and to understand the possible consequences of not doing so. It may be an idea to get their express permission to do so, as you would for other background checks during the process.


7.   Ensure that you have the right person. As you can imagine there is a high chance of finding many “Joe Smith’s” in cyberspace so before acting on any information you may find, be sure that this really is the “Joe Smith” you’re considering for employment.


8.   Interrogate the information. Not all information online is accurate or authentic, particularly if it has been posted by a third party. Before making any assumptions, consider the source of the information and other mitigating circumstances and be reasonable in your decision making as a result.


9.   Document the legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for your hiring decisions, especially if you employ cyber screening as part of your process. You need to ensure that you don’t find yourself at the wrong end of a discrimination claim at the CCMA.


10. Train your team. If you expect individual recruiters to do this as part of their recruitment process, be extremely clear about your expectations. Set a policy and train your consultants on the acceptable way in which to do this so that you protect yourself.


While you’re considering how your candidates would fare if screened, think about your own profiles. Perhaps it’s a good time to re-assess your online persona and at least adjust your privacy settings.


Who does Reppler work? Reppler helps to manage online image by showing users how they are perceived across social networks, by telling users the makeup of their social network connections, and by identifying any potential issues and risks. TrustedID’s social media monitoring service is free and supports various social networking services, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  cyber snooping  ethics  non-discriminatory  public search content  screening  screening methods  screening policy and procedures  social media site 

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Recruiters still considered to provide the best candidates

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 08 July 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

Recruiters still considered to provide the best candidates

MCI Consultants recently announced the results of its 2013 SA HR Recruitment Trend Survey, the second consecutive year its been run and which saw the participation of 1012 HR professionals from across the country.

“The results of this survey clearly indicate that HR departments and professionals of corporate SA have become extremely proactive and are managing a bulk of their recruitment internally. Interestingly though, there was an increase of 6% in the number of corporates utilising agencies as their first port of call. This year’s results also showed a remarkable increase of 5% in the number of organisations utilising Social Media to recruit which aligns with the growing global trend.”

Some of the major highlights from the 2013 survey were as follows:

  • 87% of organisations attempt to source and place candidates internally before approaching recruitment agencies;
  • 74,3% have a careers section on their websites;

  • 68% use job portals to advertise vacancies, as opposed to 65% using print media;

  • 61% have an employee candidate referral awards program in place;

  • 58% use social media to recruit candidates, up from 53%; with LinkedIn being by far the most successful one utilised;

  • 43,6% primarily make use of recruitment agencies to satisfy their requirements;

  • 43% use a recruitment management system;

  • 40% of respondents have between one and five recruitment agencies on their preferred supplier lists.

Overall, recruitment agencies and internal referrals gave the best quality candidates; whilst print media gave the worst, observations that were identical to those made last year.


Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  best candidates  job portals  quality candidates  recruitment agency  recruitment management systems  social media 

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Is Your Recruitment Partnership a Match made in Heaven?

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 01 July 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

Is your recruitment partnership a match made in heaven?

Author: Natalie Singer, APSO Strategic Engagement Executive

With the proliferation of recruitment and staffing companies in South Africa it can be tempting to play the field rather than commit to an exclusive partnership. However, whilst this strategy can seem to offer the best of all worlds, the resulting quality of the relationship can be less than ideal.

Choosing a recruitment agency is an important decision, after all, the agency is an extension of your company in the minds of candidates and you definitely don’t want desirable candidates to be turned off by their interactions with your recruiter. In today’s highly competitive talent market employer brand and the perceptions of your company culture start from the first recruitment interaction so pick your bedfellow carefully to protect your reputation.

Partnering with the right agency should save you time, ensure that you’re able to source the best candidates who wouldn’t necessarily be accessible to you via other means, and to guide and assist you throughout the hiring process.

Date before you decide...don’t be dazzled by the first impression

Because there are currently no, or very low barriers to entry, there are literally thousands of individuals and companies claiming to be recruitment consultants. How do you choose from the myriad of options that all appear to be the same if you listen to their rehearsed telephone sales pitches or read their generic company profiles?

For most businesses, appointing a recruitment agency usually comes down to the following four factors:

-          Cost

-          Time

-          Specialist knowledge and insight

-          Quality of candidates


Whilst these are common factors that should always be considered, the real debate is how you weight the factors – at the end of the day, it should always be about getting results!

Partner with a professional

In Sept 2013 the staffing industry was formally recognised as a profession with the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO) being appointed by South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) as the professional body entrusted to be the custodian of the three registered professional staffing designations.

In addition to vetting the recruitment agency, it is recommended that you interrogate the quality and professionalism of the individual recruiter servicing your account. Have they committed to the profession, do they meet the minimum qualifications and have they invested in their knowledge and expertise via continuous professional development to ensure that they provide you with value-added services including specific insight into your business and your industry?

Got your perfect match in mind?

The quality of the individual recruiter will directly influence the success rate of finding, and securing, the best talent available.

Do you feel comfortable talking to the recruiter, do they seem intelligent and do they have a genuine interest in understanding your business to ensure a good fit, not just of technical competence but also of culture fit within your business context?

Do they demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the current job market and do they utilise this information to make suggestions to you on how you can improve your recruitment and selection process to attract the top talent?

How does your recruiter interact with candidates? Do they have a professional, honest and consistent process for candidate management?

And most importantly, do you believe that your recruiter operates ethically and honestly and will be a good brand ambassador for your company?

Commitment pays off

Utilising external recruitment providers can be very costly, but there are usually many different fee options available to clients who are willing to work with the agency. Many agencies are willing to offer reduced rates to clients who offer them exclusivity or who work with them on a continued, retained basis.

Above all, companies should remember that they will get the best possible return from their recruitment company if they are treated as partners rather than transactional suppliers.


Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  cost  insight  knowledge  partnership  Professional body  professional staffing designation  quality  quality of candidates  recruitment agency  recruitment partnership  SAQA  time 

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How to Link Pay and Job Performance

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

How to Link Pay and Job Performance

By: Bruce L. Katcher


Employees want to feel that their good work is appreciated and appropriately compensated. However, 7 out of 10 do not believe that there is a clear relationship between their pay and their job performance. Let's investigate this further.

  1. Although technically impossible, most employees believe that their performance is above average. Each, therefore, believes that he or she should be paid above average. But this, of course, is impossible.
  2. Most employees feel that they are not adequately paid compared to those performing similar work in other organizations. They, therefore, also believe that their pay is below the level of their job performance.
  3. Employees often perceive that there are poor performers in their organization who are earning as much if not more than they earn. They thus conclude, "If that lazy so-and-so is still here, they must be under-paying me for my good work."
  4. Supervisors don't have the know-how or guts to differentiate between poor, average, and above average performers. They take the simple way out and give everyone the same pay increases each year.
  5. Our employee surveys consistently show that employees say that tying pay to performance is very important to them. We have found this to be particularly true in unionized organizations where the union has negotiated contracts that require their employer to tie pay increases to years of service rather than performance.


Successfully tying pay to job performance is possible but very difficult to accomplish. Here are a few principles that can help.

  1. Make Your Pay-for-Performance Philosophy Clear to Employees There are plenty of good reasons why you might NOT want to link pay to performance. For example,
    • There are few major differences in how well employees perform their jobs.
    • It is very difficult to measure differences in job performance.
    • There is not enough money available to make a big enough difference in how average and above average performers are paid.
    • Linking pay and performance is inconsistent with management's philosophy.

Employees, however, typically assume that above average performers will receive higher pay increases than average performers. Management, therefore, needs to be up-front with employees about whether or not they intend to try to link pay to job performance.

  1. Use Bonuses Rather than Pay Increases Pay increases are much more expensive than bonuses because they commit management to pay the increases every year. One-time bonuses are a less expensive approach that can achieve the same motivational impact.
  2. Rate Supervisors on How Well they Rate their Subordinates Supervisors often sabotage the organization's efforts to improve the pay of good performers by giving everyone in their work group high ratings. Management needs to train supervisors how to conduct their performance ratings. They then need to analyze the ratings of supervisors and base supervisors' pay, in part, on the quality of the ratings they give to their workers.
  3. Train Supervisors How to Talk About Pay Many supervisors undermine their organization's pay for performance efforts by saying things like, "I wish we could pay you more, but all we can do is increase your salary by 5 percent" instead of, "I am delighted to tell you that due to your excellent performance this past year, we are increasing your salary 5 percent."

Supervisors, therefore, need to be taught how to convey the appropriate message that their good performance is being rewarded.

  1. Use Objective Performance Measures Many jobs require tying pay to the subjective ratings of supervisors. These ratings are often contaminated by a host of factors including personal bias, halo, favouritism, central tendency, and leniency. Every attempt should be made to base pay decisions on objective criteria such as sales, attendance, complaints, quality, and productivity.
  2. Weed out Ineffective Performers Most organizations do a poor job of managing poor performers. The presence of poor performers signals to the good performers that how well they perform doesn't really matter. Those who are not performing their job well should be coached, retrained, disciplined, or removed.

In summary, employees typically want to be paid commensurate with the quality of their job performance. Doing so requires a carefully constructed pay program, a commitment from supervisors, and well-orchestrated communications to employees about their pay.

- Bruce L. Katcher

Bruce Katcher, PhD is President of Discovery Surveys, Inc. His firm conducts customized employee opinion and customer satisfaction surveys.


Tags:  appraisal  APSO  APSOgram  benchmarking  bonus  compensation  Link pay to performance  pay increase  performance philosophy 

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Blended Workforces: Strategising Today for Tomorrow's Success

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

Blended Workforces: Strategising today for tomorrow’s success

In today’s uncertain economy, securing and retaining top talent is a complex undertaking. Given shifts in workforce demographics, the demand for innovation and global growth, organisations need to be able to paint a complete picture of current and future talent needs. They are adopting a single integrated framework for employee recruitment and contingent workforce supply chain management, yielding what is known as a “blended workforce” approach to talent strategy.

Historically, organisations have invested in various outsourcing providers including engaging Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) for full-time employees and Managed Services Providers (MSP) for contingent labour. Today, forward-thinking organisations are applying the blended workforce approach and leveraging a single provider for both traditional talent acquisition and the management of the contingent labour supply chain.

Shift to more flexible workforces

According to Aberdeen’s 2012 Contingent Workforce Management report, nearly 26% of the average organisations workforce is considered contingent or temporary, up from 23% in 2011. Clearly, the demand for a more flexible workforce is on the rise as both employers and employees recognise the numerous benefits, including greater diversity, improved productivity and reduce costs.

The contemporary business often relies on contractors, contingent workers and traditional full-time employees to complete its objectives and drive more revenue to the bottom-line. As these categories evolve and progress, so do the solutions and strategies required to manage overall talent in an effective manner.

Aberdeen’s 2012 Blended Workforce survey identified several key drivers in this shift to an integrated approach, including reducing costs, improving visibility to attract quality talent, and improved productivity.


While optimising costs and improving visibility into the talent supply are important drivers for success, identifying and acquiring top-level talent involves a series of processes that do not have cost or visibility top of mind. Instead, these processes are only concerned with the end result of overall organisational enhancement.

Under an integrated approach, these processes must be executed in such a way that pay rates, utilisation of internal resources, and cost of recruitment efforts do not shatter greater objectives. Organisations should optimise their spending on all talent initiatives and gain a better understanding of their entire talent pool as a means of improving overall workforce quality.

Three foundations for success – Collaboration, Strategy, and Technology

For organisations to get the most value from a blended workforce approach, they should consider end-to-end recruitment including everything from employer branding to sourcing, screening and assessment, and hiring.  Keys to success include:

  • Fostering collaboration between internal units. All key decision makers - HR, procurement and business - should be involved, sharing core objectives and ensuring continuous communication.
  • Defining a formal strategy. A comprehensive plan, documenting existing processes and future goals based on both the internal and external marketplace, enables organisations to design foundational practices in the context of long-term goals.
  • Invest in technology. Analytics and third-party technology solutions enhance the programme by assisting in measuring and monitoring success, including elements such as cost and visibility concerns outlined earlier.

Working together to achieve

Although options vary, nearly half of the organisations surveyed indicated that they managed the strategy under a single group. Although each unit has its own challenges and outcomes, if they work together success is more easily achieved.

Human Resources:  One of the key challenges is aligning talent initiatives with those of the business. By providing a complete view, through analytics, of both traditional and contingent workers, HR is more empowered to make business-centric decisions around talent. HR is in the unique position to be the champion of an integrated strategy, driving the process and articulating results.  This evolving role will require HR professionals to move outside their comfort zone and create, track and report on a more complete picture of talent.

Procurement:  This division was designed with one major goal in mind, produce cost savings and improve the organisation’s bottom-line. However, it is necessary for the procurement division to be more than a mere cost-cutter; they must find balance between cost and quality. Procurement’s strength in contract, and supplier lifecycle management, is critical considering the contemporary “contingent workforce umbrella” involves independent contracts, consultants, and professionals services and more often than not, these forms of talent are linked to Statements of Work. Procurement’s expertise in managing performance, based on milestones and delivery dates, is critical.

Business:  The primary goal of the business unit, in particular those on a C-level, is to achieve the organisation’s objectives at the lowest possible cost whilst maintaining a top-tier level of quality. Under the direction of business, HR and Procurement can better focus on the greater goals of driving talent costs down while improving overall quality and visibility.

The need for technology

A key to an optimum blended workforce strategy is the ability of functioning units to tap into intelligence from the same system. Leading providers are now offering integrated solutions for recruiting both contingent workers and traditional employees.

Technology-led intelligence is critical in:

·         Managing geographically diverse workforces and talent pools;

·         Assessing supplier and worker performance against milestones and delivery dates;

·         Tracking ongoing and forecasted trends within traditional and contract talent to garner valuable intelligence about suppliers, usage or effectiveness; and

·         Tracking improves overall budgeting and financial resource planning for future projects that will use contract/contingent talent


The survey revealed that more than half of the organisations surveyed do not currently realise the value of analytics in their blended workforce strategies.


There is a multitude of technology options available in the talent and workforce management space but the most commonly used is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The biggest challenge is that much of the technology available has only limited functionality to support contingent labour, necessitating an improvement in capability or at least integration with a Vendor Management System (VMS).



In conclusion, findings from the research shows that whilst the blended workforce approach is being adopted by a growing number of organisations, there is still much room for growth, and the time for implementing strategy is now.


Extracts from “Driving a Blended Workforce Strategy: A Total Talent Approach” published in January 2013. For more than two decades, Aberdeen’s research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-In-Class. For more information on this or other research topics please visit

Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  blended workforce  business  collaboration  contigent labor  employee  flexibility  HR  procurement  quality  reduce costs  strategy  talent acquisition  technology  vendor management systems  VMS  workforce 

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Are you a Collaborative Leader?

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Updated: Friday, 16 May 2014

Are you a collaborative leader?

Extracts from Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra & Morten T. Hansen (Aug 2011)


Business people today are working more collaboratively than ever before, not just inside companies but also with suppliers, customers, governments and universities. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, video conferencing and a host of other technologies have put connectivity on steroids and enabled new forms of collaboration that would have been impossible a short while ago.


Herminia Ibarra, a professor of organisational behaviour and Morten T. Hansen, a management professor at Berkley, joined forces to unpack what it means to be a collaborative leader and produced a detailed paper for the Harvard Business Review. This article seeks to highlight some of their key findings.


After thorough research the professors determined that collaborative leaders all share strong skills in four areas:


1.   Playing the role of connector;

2.   Attracting diverse talent;

3.   Modelling collaboration at the top; and

4.   Showing a strong hand to keep teams from getting mired in debate


Play Global Connector


In his best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell used the term “connector” to describe individuals who have many ties to different social worlds. It’s not the number of people they know that makes connectors significant, however; it’s their ability to link people, ideas and resources that wouldn’t normally bump into one another. In business, connectors are facilitators of collaboration.


Connectors are not limited to leaders in roles such as President or CEO as many individuals may provide the bridge between their organisation and the outside world today. To connect their organisations to the wider world, collaborative leaders develop contacts not only in the typical areas – local clubs, industry associations, and customer-supplier relations – but beyond them. Networking in adjacent industries, innovation hot spots or emerging economies or with people of different educational or ethnic backgrounds, helps open their eyes to new business opportunities and partners.


Engage Talent at the Periphery


Research has consistently shown that diverse teams produce better results, provided that they are well led. The ability to bring together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures and generations and leverage all they have to offer, therefore, is a must-have for leaders. Yet many companies spend inordinate amounts of time, money, and energy attracting talented employees only to subject them to induction processes that seek to homogenise them and kill diversity and creativity.


Research on creative industries shows that collaborations that are most successful (whether in terms of patent citation, critical acclaim, or financial return) include both experienced people and newcomers and bring together people who haven’t worked together before. Leaders need to make a concerted effort to promote this mix: Left to their own devices, people will choose to collaborate with others they know well or who have a similar background. Collaborative leaders ensure that their teams stay fresh via periodic infusions of new players.

Collaborate at the Top First

It’s not enough for leaders to spot collaborative opportunities and attract the best talent to them. They must also set the tone by being good collaborators themselves. All too often, efforts to collaborate in the middle are sabotaged by political games and turf battles higher up in the organisation.


Part of the problem is that many leadership teams are composed as individual divisional leaders and don’t operate as teams. Each member is solely responsible for his or her own region, function, product or service without much incentive for aligning the organisation as an inherent whole.


If leaders are to encourage more innovation through partnerships across sectors and with suppliers, customers and consumers, they need to stop relying heavily on short-term performance indicators. According to the psychologist Carol Dweck, people are driven to do tasks by either performance or learning goals. When performance goals dominate an environment, people are motivated to show others that they have a valued attribute, such as intelligence or leadership. When learning goals dominate, they are motivated to develop the attribute. Performance goals, she finds, induce people to favour tasks that will make them look good over tasks that will help them learn. A shift towards learning goals will make managers more open to exploring opportunities to acquire knowledge from others.


Depoliticising senior management so that executives are rewarded for collaboration rather than promotion of individual agendas is an absolute essential.


Show a Strong Hand


Once leaders start getting employees to collaborate, they face a different problem: overdoing it. Too often people will try to collaborate on everything and wind up in endless meetings, debating ideas and struggling to find consensus. They can’t reach a decision and execute quickly. Collaboration becomes not the oil greasing the wheel but rather the sand grinding it to a halt.


Effective collaborative leaders assume a strong role in directing teams. They maintain agility by forming and disbanding teams as opportunities come and go – in much the same way that Hollywood producers, directors, actors, writers and technicians establish teams for the life of a movie project. Collaborative efforts are highly fluid and not confined to company silos.


Effective leaders also assign clear decision rights and responsibilities, so that at the appropriate point someone can end the discussion and make a final decision.


Loosening Control without Losing Control


In the old world of silos and solo players, leaders had access to everything they needed under one roof, and a command-and-control style served them well. But things have changed: The world has become much more interconnected, and if executives don’t know how to tap into the power of those connections, they’ll be left behind.


Leaders today must be able to harness ideas, people, and resources from across boundaries of all kinds. That requires reinventing their talent strategies and building strong connections both inside and outside their organisations. To get all the disparate players to work together effectively, they also need to know when to wield their influence rather than authority to move things forward, and when to halt unproductive discussions, squash politicking, and make final calls.

Differences in convictions, cultural values, and operating norms inevitably add complexity to collaborative efforts. But they also make them richer, more innovative, and more valuable. Getting value is at the heart of collaborative leadership.



Collaboration does not equal Consensus


Collaborative leadership is the capacity to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work towards a common goal – despite differences in convictions, values, and operating norms.


Most people understand intuitively that collaborative leadership is the opposite of the old command-and-control model, but the differences with consensus-based approaches are more nuanced. Below are some helpful distinctions between the three leadership styles.



Comparing Three Styles of Leadership



Command and Control



Organisational structure


Matrix/Smaller Group

Dispersed, cross-organisational network

Who has the relevant information?

Senior management

Formally designated members/representatives of the relevant disciplines

Employees at all levels and locations and variety of external stakeholders

Who has the authority to make final decisions?

The people at the top of the organisation with clear authority

All parties have equal authority

The people leading collaborations have clear authority

What is the basis for accountability and control?

Financial results against business plan

Many performance indicators, by function or geography

Performance on achieving shared goals

Where does it work best?

Works well within a defined hierarchy; works poorly for complex organisations and when innovations is important

Works well in small teams; works poorly when speed/execution is important

Works well for diverse groups and cross-unit and cross-company work, and when innovation and creativity are critical


Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  attract talent  collaborate  collaborative styles  command and control  connector role  consensus  control  strong hand  talent engagement 

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10 Outside-the-Box Wacky Ideas for Hiring Better People

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 03 June 2014
Updated: Friday, 16 May 2014

10 Outside-the-Box Wacky Ideas for Hiring Better People

By Lou Adler

Over the past few years I've made some pretty wild assertions about how to hire better people. While they have caused quite a stir, and despite the inevitable nay-saying, they've all proved to be extremely effective.

Here are my choices for the top 10 wackiest ideas on how to hire better people.

  1. Recruiting processes must be designed to hire great employees, not great candidates.
  2. Traditional job descriptions prevent companies from hiring top people.
  3. Behavioural interviewing has limited value in assessing candidates for bigger jobs.
  4. You only need one question to assess candidate competency and motivation.
  5. Historical cost and time metrics are useless for process control.
  6. Job boards aren't worth squat unless you know the secrets of semi-sourcing.
  7. Stop looking at the CVs of, or talking with, unqualified people.
  8. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) need to be designed and based on the needs of great recruiters and top candidates.
  9. Networking is still the best way to find and hire top people.
  10. The quality of the recruiting team determines the quality of the people hired.

If you're not hiring enough top people, you're probably limiting yourself by not thinking out of the box enough. To get started simply try implementing some of these ideas. If nothing else is working maybe it's time to get wacky?

  • Hire top employees, not top candidates.

Top employees are competent and motivated to do the work, they work well with others, and they exceed expectations. Top candidates, on the other hand, have great CVs, are enthusiastic, on time, and prepared, and make good first impressions. If too many of your new employees fall short once on the job, you're probably hiring top candidates instead of top employees. This typically happens when you overvalue presentation skills at the expense of performance. Research shows that only one-third of the best employees present well, and two-thirds of those that present well aren't top employees. So you're missing a lot of great people and making a lot of mistakes by using the wrong measurement stick.

  • Make sure your job descriptions define success, not skills.

It's been shown that clarifying expectations upfront is the key to achieving peak performance. When you over-emphasise skills and experiences to screen candidates, you inadvertently preclude the best employees from consideration. Here's an idea: minimise the use of traditional job descriptions in any of your job vacancy postings. Instead, describe what people need to achieve with these skills and some of the opportunities available. Then watch the quality of your candidates soar. It's what people do with what they have that determines their success, so play this up. This is why performance profiles that list the real job deliverables in priority order is the first step to hiring stronger people.

  • Combine behavioural interviewing and the one-question interview.

For higher level positions, traditional behavioural interviewing has limited value. Part of this is due to the fact that multiple behaviours are needed to perform more complex tasks (e.g., management plus initiative plus team skills). The other part is the need to assess the environment, culture, and performance requirements of the job during the interview. These problems are solved by asking candidates to describe their major accomplishments in great detail. This is the one-question interview. Then use behavioural questions to clarify how each task was accomplished. This way, you can assess how the candidate's mix of behaviours and skills were used to achieve results.

  • Use better metrics, or measure the right stuff in real time.

For strategic game-breaker positions, candidate quality must be the key driver, not cost or time. Quality still should be the primary metric for any important positions that directly affect company performance. For less important positions, time to fill and cost per hire are valid measures of success. Frequently these are the positions that can be outsourced. However, to impact results here you still should measure activity when it occurs, not weeks or months later. This is the big lesson learned from systems like Six Sigma: errors need to be tracked and eliminated as close to the time they occur as possible.

  • Use semi-sourcing and job branding to improve job board advertising.

There are many top people who look at job boards infrequently, generally after a particularly bad day. These are what I call semi-active candidates. While these people want another job, they won't jump through hoops to apply unless the job is attractive. If you design your advertising to attract these less-active candidates, you'll be able to find some exceptional people at very low cost. To attract their attention, make sure your ads are highly visible and compelling, and then make sure that you describe opportunities rather than emphasise requirements. If the job directly ties to the company strategy, all the better. This whole process is called job branding. Now consider this: the Corporate Executive Board's Recruiting Roundtable has shown that job branding is one of the two most important things you must do to hire top people. Don't forget, though, that you must call these people within 24 hours (the half-life of semi-active candidates), so efficient backend systems are important.

  • Pre-qualify everyone.

Recruiters spend too much valuable time looking at the CVs of, or talking with, unqualified candidates. Stop. The best applicant tracking systems have great filtering systems to rank order CVs. If the candidates at the top of the pile aren't good enough, don't look at any more CVs. Instead, run a more compelling and visible ad, or expand your sourcing channels. Also, make sure all referred candidates are pre-qualified, whether you obtained these names by networking or through other referral programmes.

  • Candidate- and recruiter-friendly ATSs should not be optional features.

Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are designed around a requisition-based workflow. Recruiters don't work this way. Their work is based on task priorities. The best ATSs adjust for this by providing customisable desktops with folders and alerts to ensure that important data is pushed to the recruiter daily. Semi-active candidates don't have time to apply, so candidate-friendliness must also be an integrated ATS design feature. Unfortunately, too many ATSs were designed to meet the needs of the purchaser rather than their primary users. Recruiter productivity will soar along with better candidates with the addition of these two features.

  • You'll still find the best people through networking.

You should be able to hire at least 50% of your people by aggressively networking with your best employees, top candidates, industry experts, vendors, customers, and trade association members. This is a vast source of untapped and readily available talent. To start this, you'll need great recruiters working the phones asking for the names of top people, not for those looking for jobs. Then you must brand your jobs as described above, clearly describing the deliverables. Of course, you must make sure the application process is super easy. When networking is done properly, you'll quickly have many more great people checking out your website and attempting to apply. Don't disappoint them.

  • Great recruiters are needed to hire great people.

The best people always have multiple opportunities. They get counter-offers, have second thoughts, and consult spouses and advisors for advice. Recruiters are the ones called upon for this extra information, counselling, and hand-holding. They must know the job, they must interview well, and they must be able to negotiate fair offers despite having too many other things to do. Make sure you assign your strongest recruiters to handle your strategic game-breaker positions. Then, even if you don't do everything described above, you'll still be able to hire the best people for these critical positions. Unless the hiring managers do it themselves, the quality of the people a company hires correlates directly with the quality of the recruiters involved.

My biggest wild and crazy idea is the possibility that hiring top talent can be a systematic business process. You're 90% there if you do everything described above. Wow! Now that's the wackiest idea of them all.

Tags:  applicant tracking systems  APSO  APSOgram  better candidates  better people  competency  great employees  hiring  job description  motivation  networking  outside the box  quality  thinking 

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Employee Attraction

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Updated: Friday, 16 May 2014
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8 Strategies to Successfully Change Your Company Culture

Posted By APSO, Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Updated: Friday, 16 May 2014

8 Strategies to Successfully Change Your Company Culture
By: Michelle M Smith


The current pace of change in business is unprecedented, and many leaders are looking to refine — or even overhaul — their cultures to better position their organisations for success. Change is never easy, but changing corporate culture needs to be approached thoughtfully and with resolve. Drs. Kevin and Jackie Frieberg specialise in culture, and the following strategies have been adapted from their work.

  1. Creating a new culture calls for new methods. Creating a new culture will be extremely difficult if you insist on doing it by playing with the old rules. Trying to change while still using the old rules is futile — the rules themselves are part of the problem.
  2. Champion the vision and re-channel the energy. When change happens, people get disoriented and fear and resistance take over. Start by communicating a compelling vision to focus employees’ attention. Give people something to aim at—be specific and avoid generalities.
  3. Make your early moves bold, dramatic, and unwavering. Culture change requires a unique combination of passion, courage, conviction, audacity, and determination. Your early moves must be strikingly bold, lightning fast, and out of character in relation to the old rules. You must gain momentum quickly, and employees need to see your resolve or you won’t overcome resistance.
  4. Surround yourself with talented, tough-minded non-conformists. Creating a new culture is not only about changing the rules; it’s about changing the rule makers. Surround yourself with people who are as passionate about the new vision as you are and are willing to stand up to the heat.
  5. Re-engineer the reward system to reinforce the behaviours you want. Culture change won’t happen unless people see a personal return on investment for behaving in different ways. If you don’t radically restructure how you reward people you’ll fuel the fires of resistance. Change what you celebrate, honour, and who you hold up as heroes. Devote your time to those change agents and vision champions who add value.
  6. Track progress, measure results, and hold people accountable. The cliché is true: You get what you measure and reward. Holding people accountable means paying close attention to what’s important. Like a rubber band, if you relax the pull of the new culture, people will revert back to old comfortable patterns. Tracking progress enables you to know where the resistance lies and where you should be allocating rewards.
  7. Remove obstacles and bureaucratic practices. You’ll gain respect and credibility by breaking the chains of bureaucracy. But bureaucracy is a formidable adversary — it’s the ball and chain of ‘the way we’ve always done it.’ Your employees will have a difficult time contributing to the new cause if they are shackled by the old rites, rituals, and rules.
  8. Establish concrete evidence and tangible results quickly through small wins. Tangible pay-offs fuel the fires of motivation and contain the skeptics. It’s hard to argue with success when you can measure it in more money, time saved, and percentages of re-work minimised. Advertise successes—many cultural initiatives fail because employees in the trenches don’t see or hear about positive results.

Michelle M. Smith is the Vice President of Business Development at Salt Lake City-based OC Tanner, an international appreciation company that helps more than 6,000 clients worldwide appreciate people who do great work through consulting, training, and creating customised award and recognition programs.


Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  conviction  corporate culture  culture  organisational culture  passion  strategy  tangible results  vision 

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5 Skills every Mnager Needs

Posted By APSO, Friday, 16 May 2014

5 Skills Every Manager Needs

According to the New England College, modern managers need to have these five skills to succeed and given today’s staffing environment, these speak directly to us too:

     Evaluating the complex business environment

Less than half of CEOs believe that their companies are prepared to deal with the ever-increasing complexity of business and that investment should be made into understanding the threats and opportunities the changes present.


2.   Cultivating strategic thinking and innovation

Only 26% of Millennials believe that business leaders effectively foster innovation and yet 2 out of 3 consider innovation a key attractor when considering employment.


3.   Managing projects effectively

Not enough companies achieved their organisational goals in 2011 and largely in part to the inability to manage costs and resources effectively to ensure profitability. Risk management, especially in turbulent times, is a critical component in project management.


4.   Managing change and uncertainty

Quick decision-making is the most critical factor in succeeding through change, with high performance organisations 54% more likely to respond to change through rapid, yet considered, decision making.


5.   Shaping the organisation’s future

Encouraging innovation and rewarding creativity leads to engaged employees who look for opportunities, rather than excuses, in dynamic business environments. And with just 1 in 5 companies rewarding this creativity, you have the opportunity to attract future leaders into your business now. 

Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  business environment  change  innovation  management  skills  strategic thinking  uncertainty 

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