Recently I had the pleasure of joining Trish McFarlane for an HCMx Radio podcast episode where we talked about how to use simulations in your recruiting and training initiatives.

We start with a bit of my background–if you’re new here that might be interesting for you. Then we leap into some of the work we’re doing at Brandon Hall Group. Finally we get into the meat of the conversation–using simulations to really drive home better recruiting/selection practices and better training/development practices. It was fun and I think you’ll enjoy listening!

Click here to listen to the podcast.

HCMx Radio on BlogTalkRadio

One of the things we talked about was having exercises for different types of jobs. I found this excellent set of examples below (this is partial, click through below for the full listing) to illustrate the point that virtually every job can include some element of this type of tool.

Job Simulation Exercises

PositionMust-haveSample Exercise
COOCritical thinking, writingObserve the organization in action (delivering a training session, staging a rally, holding a hearing, etc.) and propose recommendations for improvement in a 2-3 page memo
Manager of programsStrategic thinkingRead and analyze a set of goals and objectives and come up with recommendations to pursue
Director of communicationsPublic speaking, judgmentRehearse a press conference or a call with a reporter about a controversial program we support
Manager of a small- or medium-sized departmentGeneral management, staff supervisionSimulate giving positive and corrective feedback to a supervisee

Courtesy of the Management Center

 So, what did you think of the topic? Do you like the podcast format? Would you like to see more of those? 

rehiring boomerang employeeA while back I was reading a story about a CEO being asked to return to his company after stepping down from the role years before. As usual, I started tying the thoughts back to HR and how that sort of “boomerang” employee, at any level of the company, might approach the decision to return.

For instance, what would change? What would stay the same? If you had a fresh start, how would you do things differently? Or maybe it wouldn’t be a fresh start at all–people would expect you to do the same things the same way, even if it wasn’t good for you or the business long-term. Well, today you’re going to get some excellent insights into this idea of boomerang employees.

I decided to ask Mary Faulkner, Talent Strategist & Business Leader, for her opinion on the topic. Mary is a writer, speaker, and HR leader whose opinion I respect. After you read some of her thoughts, you’ll understand why!

Ben: Tell me a bit about your experience. What’s the background story?

Mary: I was at a Fortune 200 company for about 6.5 years and it had a reputation as a tough (most would say ‘toxic’) culture. No lie…it really, really was.  But it was also a place where I worked with amazing, smart, driven people who were doing their best to bring leadership development to a culture that didn’t really embrace it.

When I left, I did so on good terms – but I was also burned out and bitter. Fellow ‘survivors’ often joke that you almost need a rebound job to detox from the day-to-day craziness you endured.

A few years after I left, I was approached to potentially go back to the old team.  I listened and met with past stakeholders and coworkers – good people who continued to fight the good fight while I left.  This process helped me think through the idea of being a “boomerang” employee.

Ben: What if you left and came back as an HR leader? 

Mary: I was already a “leader” in that I had a team, owned a good chuck of the leadership dev process, and also had clout with key stakeholders. If I went back, it would have been 1 level up…which would have afforded some additional influence…but not as much as you’d think.  The same players were still above me – with one key difference, which is why I was even considering the return.

Ben: So when I think about starting a job, I know I can get some “quick wins” to help establish some credibility. Would you still be able to have a whole new set of “wins” or would it be challenging to do that all over again?

Mary: Truthfully, this was a real concern for me.  I knew I had burn out, and while distance lends perspective, it’s possible I would have run into the same roadblocks – not necessarily because of the organization, but because the same people with the same dynamics were still there.  I was not naive to the fact that we all had history…and a new person wouldn’t have the baggage we all had in the role.

Ben: Okay, so what would you do differently the second time around? 

Mary: I would be more direct with key stakeholders (meaning, I would go to them directly), not relying on my VP to do my talking for me. (Don’t get me wrong – great guy.  We just have very different styles.)  I think I’ve learned more about how to sell ideas based on business needs and results since I left, and that would help inform my pitch to get programs funded and supported.

Ben: What innovation would you bring to the table?

Mary: The innovation would come from fresh perspective, experience in other organizations, which I could apply to my knowledge of that organization.  I’m surprised at how many things we had set up the “right” way – much of our performance management, talent review, and other programs had best in class infrastructure. It’s how we implemented it that lead to issues.  I could have used my exposure to other systems to build the case that we are almost there… and here’s what we need to do to get the outcomes we’re looking for.

Ben: Another piece that seems to be a gray area that we don’t hear about much is the “people” element. How do people treat “boomerang” employees/leaders differently the second time around? 

Mary: This org actually had quite a few boomerang employees.  One the one hand, it was accepted – people knew that sometimes you just needed a break and that you’d come back rejuvenated.  I think there was still a backlash – maybe not stated, but certainly there was a feeling that, “Um…we stuck it out and kept this place running while you pursued your bliss.  What makes you so darn special?”

What struck me is how little people seemed to have changed.  I felt like I had grown quite a bit professionally because I’d done other work and been in other companies, and those who had stayed were still using the same methods to get work done…because the environment was the same. This “sameness” was a reason I was a bit relieved when they opted to go internal with the role.  I loved what I did there, but I’m not sure it would have been growth.

Ben: Thanks for your time, Mary! This has been great and I think the information is very helpful.

——

mary faulknerI hope you enjoyed the interview with Mary Faulkner! You can follow her on Twitter or find her on LinkedIn. Thank you again, Mary, for sharing your insights and ideas.

So, what are your thoughts? How does your organization handle “boomerang” employees? Have you ever faced a decision like that yourself? I’d love to hear some other stories on the topic.

Also, if you like the interview format, I’d be glad to do some more of them. Hit me in the comments or via email if you’d like to see other interviews of HR leaders. 

As you know, my daily work is filled with data crunching, report publishing, and other nerdy stuff. But occasionally I get the opportunity to leave my virtual cubicle and interact with the world. Here’s your chance to listen in.

Assessments Webinar

On Wednesday, February 5th at 1:00 EST, I’ll be co-hosting a Brandon Hall Group research spotlight where we talk about some of our recent assessments research and what you need to know. Here’s the marketing blurb:

What’s the big deal about assessments anyway? Assessments have been around for decades now, so why all the attention to the assessments industry these days? Organizations large and small are using a wide variety of assessment types – skill, behavioral, personality, cognitive and more – throughout the hiring process and the employee lifecycle to help make better talent decisions, guide managers in developing their teams, and help individuals further their own career goals. It’s not enough to get an assessment score or profile. Managers and individuals need to know how to take action on that information. It’s a balance of science driven assessments, and the art of integrating the results with your talent processes.

Click here to sign up

Why you should attend

Working as the HR Director for a small company, I don’t know that I would have spent much time looking at information on assessments. After all, you just use those for hiring, right?

Wrong!

  • Hiring assessments (I started using these for key positions, and it was a great tool for helping our selection process)
  • Talent assessments (Who are your high potential employees that would make good leaders?)
  • Individual assessments (What is my team good at? How can I help them to play to their strengths and downplay weaknesses?)

Plus, you get the opportunity to listen to my friend and colleague, Mollie Lombardi, as she shares other insights into the world of assessments. I’m excited and hope you can join us!
assessments webinar invite

google job candidatesThere is a phenomenon that doesn’t get talked about much publicly, but it’s something that in-the-trenches HR folks deal with fairly regularly. While we want to “rise up” and think about big picture, have a strategic viewpoint, and assume the best, there are always going to be friction points that hold us back. It’s a part of the whole “working with people” thing. :-) Today I want to talk through a few recent questions I have received around the impact of social media in the workplace.

We recently hired someone, but after he started I found out that he is posting offensive content to his Instagram page. Should we fire him? This is his first real job after college.

In some cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to terminate someone for what they are sharing online, especially if it would be harmful for your company if it were to come into the public eye. In this case, I’d take a coaching approach initially. The guy’s in his first job and might not realize the implications of what he is sharing. Take him aside, explain why he should NOT be sharing offensive things on a public social media site, and ask him to make it private and/or stop. Continue reading

managing contingent workersOne of the best conversations I had last week was about how technology is changing to allow internal HR/recruiting leaders to also take over the management of contingent workers: free agents, temps, etc. But, if you’ve spent some time in HR, you probably know that this is something that we just don’t do. But why?

Good question.

Sometimes the barrier to technological improvement isn’t technology-related at all.

That thought occurred to me during a discussion with the provider, PeopleFluent, that has built a robust recruiting solution that also allows management of contingent workers. In other words, if you’re trying to bring in free agents, contractors, or other non-traditional workers, you can do that within the recruiting tools instead of having an entirely separate process.

The provider has had adoption issues and doesn’t have a significant number of clients (at least in the US) that are seeking to implement this portion of the recruiting system. The problem, as many HR pros will tell you, is that we don’t always want to be in charge of the contingent workers. Here’s why… Continue reading

My phone rings and caller ID tells me it’s a recruiting firm calling. I can’t be the only one rolling my eyes thinking, “would they just stop calling me!?”, right? I have a bias against using third parties to fill our open reqs for a number of reasons – fees, signal-to-noise-ratio and culture fit issues, chief among them – but they are necessary at times for our technical positions. Managed correctly (which my People Ops partner-in-crime does), they can absolutely lead to terrific hires. So let’s talk about how to use them efficiently.

Take the lead

Go into the process valuing your time. Every extra bit of energy you have to put into managing a recruiter or weeding through oodles of bad resumes is costing you some opportunity. If you invest heavily in selecting the right recruiter and getting them off on the right foot, it’ll save you time and credibility with your hiring managers in the end.

Talk to a number of firms, settle on a few you feel comfortable with, and invite them on site to get a sense of what the company is about and what the team is looking for. When companies are anything less than enthusiastic about visiting, cut them loose.

Laying the foundation

Define your arrangement, expectations, and any future opportunities that may be available to the recruiter if successful. Encourage recruiters to ask all the questions they need to confidently send over 3-5 candidates they feel fit your gig (our recruiter stresses to send candidates as they become available, not all at once). For each of the candidates you receive, provide crystal clear feedback about what you do and do not like so the recruiter can get an understanding of exactly what you are looking for.

Be okay with a trickle of candidates – you want quality; a stuffed inbox does nothing for you.

Good recruiters should start to hone in on what you want and act like an extension of your company if you give them the type of feedback you’d expect from hiring managers when you start to source for a role.

A word of warning

Be wary of recruiters who are less interested in your feedback than they are in selling you on a candidate (if it’s a good candidate, there are tons of companies out there who will want him or her). They are chasing a commision, not a long-term partnership. Cut loose those unable to adapt and meet your expectations. You know what it takes to be successful at your company. And, ultimately, it’s your credibility on the line.

What experience have you had with third party recruiters? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Share in the comments below!

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

So after reading an interesting post by my friend Tim Sackett recently, I stopped to think about the “ideal” length of the recruiting process. Here’s Tim:

People won’t read a 700 page book, they want 300.  No one wants to watch a three hour movie, make it two.  Why do we have to have an hour meeting, make it thirty minutes. Being too long is not a weakness you want to have in today’s world.  Being too long is now a sign that you probably don’t really know what you’re doing.  If you can’t be short and concise, you’re looked at as ‘old fashioned’. That’s what your candidates are thinking of your selection process.  You try and tell yourself, and your leadership, that we ‘take our time’ because we want to ‘make the right decision’. But your competition is making those same decisions in half the time.  You’re old fashion. You’re broken.  You’re taking too long. Source: http://www.timsackett.com/2014/08/21/its-too-long/

Here’s a short video where I give both sides of the issue (subscribers click through to view):

So, what’s the right answer for you and your organization? Read the rest of my thoughts on the subject in my post on Talent Acquisition Process Length at the Brandon Hall Group blog.