Where HR and quality standards meet
Last week I had to participate in a training session led by our all-star Quality Management Specialist, and she helped me to understand how our ISO preparation is going to impact the HR-quality side of things. I hope to discuss more of them in the future, but the one item that stuck out for me was the 5 Whys technique for digging into quality problems. Basically you keep digging through the use of “why” until you find the root cause. Here’s an example:
- We have a problem with turnover. (Why?)
- Because we are hiring people who are not qualified. (Why?)
- Because we do not have strong communication on the hiring team. (Why?)
- The interviewers do not devote adequate time and effort to the interview process. (Why?)
- There is a belief that input from interviewers does not matter and that the process is a coverup for just another “good old boy” hiring system. (Let’s assume this is the root cause for purposes of this example.)
That’s just a simple example, but you can see how effective it could be for drilling down into quality issues on the HR/recruiting side and truly understanding what the real problem is.
We’ve all done it
Okay, so you’re coming down with some sort of illness. Your nose is running, you have a sinus headache, and your throat is sore.
So what do most of us do?
We take some over the counter medication to combat the symptoms, suck on a cough drop, and keep on working. But sooner or later, you realize that you are not getting better. You go to the doctor and find out that you have something that can be treated with a simple shot. You get the shot and almost immediately start feeling better.
In this health-related scenario (as well as in business), the real issue is defining the true problem.
Why? Because you can treat symptoms all day, but if you don’t attack the core issue, you’ll never see results from your HR/quality efforts.Using the example above, here are a few ways someone could address the symptoms without ever solving the problem.
- Trying to counter the turnover with awards and other incentives (the people are unqualified, so this won’t help).
- Training interviewers on how to evaluate resumes and select better candidates (interviewers are not bought into the process, so this won’t help).
- Work to establish more and/or better lines of communication on the interviewing team (even if they communicate better, they still don’t think the process is worth their time/effort).
- Encouraging managers to budget additional time for interview preparation (more time won’t change the interviewer’s feelings about the process).
Making better quality decisions
In those four general ideas, the organization could spend several weeks (or months) and thousands of dollars, yet they are not targeting the core issue, so these experiments are ineffective. I’m sure you’ve seen some of these initiatives within your own company. Executive management suddenly becomes passionate about a specific activity or method, only to find out that it doesn’t solve the problem. It’s quite possible that they were treating a symptom and that the real problem is yet to be discovered.
A better plan in this case would be to work with the interviewers to show them how their feedback is aggregated and used to rate and select the final candidate. Let them see as much of the “behind the scenes” activity as is practical, and they will be more likely to see that it truly is worth their time and effort to interview well.
Think about the 5 Why’s next time you have an issue you can apply it to. Dig deep, find the core issue, and solve that. Bonus points for sharing your 5 Why notes/thought process with your leadership team when you detail the problem.
Great post! We use the 5 Why’s in my Six Sigma training. It really does help discover the root of the problem!
Thanks for sharing the 5 why’s of fetching out the root cause of any HR quality problems. This is new to me and I hope to introduce it to our HR team. Thanks
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