Tag Archives: Guest Post

Improving Hires in Two Easy Steps

Today we have a guest post from Mary Ila Ward, a local HR/OD ninja. Enjoy!

Put first things first:  2 Steps to Improve Hiring

Ben had a great post this week about defining corporate culture.   Incorporating corporate values and culture is so important in making hiring decisions. I’m currently helping a client review and revise their selection procedures.  One of the things that I’ve noticed in helping them is that their job dimensions, and therefore the criteria they use to select people, have never been connected to their corporate values.

Any time I engage in a client project, I seek to link what we are doing with their strategic mission and values, so it was imperative for us to help them link job dimensions to value dimensions.  Here’s how you do it…

2 Steps to Improve Your Hiring Process:

  1. Know what the job requires and what tasks are involved for the job.   In HR or I/O speak, do a job analysis. I know this sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many companies have position descriptions, but do not review them regularly and do not analyze the job to make sure what they are requiring is even accurate.  This requires an actual observation of someone doing the job.

I advocate, like Ben does, picking a superstar and documenting key characteristics they exhibit as well as the skills they have that make them a superstar.  However, I’ve found a lot of value in looking at a low (you’re just about to show them the door type) performer and an average performer for comparison purposes.  This has really helped me define several key dimensions.

 An Example

With this client, I saw a huge contrast in the way the low and high performer handled complex, stressful issues.   The high performer had a sense of urgency, but a sense of calmness with that urgency in fixing the problems.   The calmness came in rationally deciding what caused the problem, which aided in fixing it so that it wouldn’t happen again. The low perform, on the other hand, exhibited almost neurosis panic when something went wrong.  He had a sense of urgency, but combined with the panic, it made things completely worse instead of better.  He could not tell you why the problem happened, and did not want to understand what caused it.  You can see how this dimension could be defined more accurately than just a sense of urgency in order to make a wise hiring decision.


  1. Match job requirements to corporate values or culture.  If you haven’t defined your corporate values or culture, then follow Ben’s step to do so this week.  If you already have, examine your job requirements against your values.   By and large, your job requirements should be an easy match to value dimensions.  If they aren’t, you may need to add more values or eliminate selection requirements from your list.

 An Example

One corporate value my client has defined is “Courage”.  This value is defined in several ways, but one thing that sticks out to me in this definition is “be responsive and flexible”, and “do the right thing”.   Another is “Ownership” defined as “be proud of your work”, “be responsible for your actions,” “operate with a ‘can do’ attitude”.  I love this value!  You can see how we defined the job dimension described above to tie to these values:

  • Ability to alter one’s behavior in a calm manner in order to respond to unforeseen problems (courage).
  • Desire to understand why equipment or machinery has caused manufacturing issues and the ability to respond appropriately in a prompt manner (ownership).

What job requirements do you have that are tied to your corporate values or culture?

mary ila wardAbout Horizon Point Consulting, Inc.: Horizon Point Consulting, Incorporated’s mission is to provide career, leadership and workforce coaching and consulting that leads to a passionate and productive workforce.

Mary Ila’s passion is helping others create and maintain passion in the workplace.   To learn more, visit the company’s website at: http://horizonpointconsulting.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Grow Young Professional Employees Who Create a Calm Company Culture

As a manager, it\’s important to create an environment in which all of your employees can thrive. You should strive to develop employees that are positive and proactive—from day one. For your young professionals, the most coddled generation in our nation\’s history, it can often be tricky to dance in the uncomfortable and very necessary space between walking on egg shells to avoid uncomfortable situations and instigating unnecessary conflict.

Here are a few ways you can work with your youngest employees to help them adopt and sustain a possibility-centered mindset so that they—and the rest of your employees—can do their best work.

Reframe Conflict

Let your young professionals know first and foremost that conflict is normal and that when it emerges, it\’s important to address it quickly. For the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we usually associate with conflict often occur more when we are thinking about the possibility of conflict than when we are actually acknowledging and moving through it. Show your young professionals how to separate fact from fiction in the stories they create about the situations they find themselves in. Help them to give other people the necessary space to speak their perspective without getting defensive. And most importantly, help them develop the skills to focus on how to move forward with others in mutually-beneficial ways rather than rehashing old grievances.

Bring in Some Old-fashioned Forgiveness

When conflict occurs, it\’s important to keep your young professionals moving forward. The only way to do this is if they forgive all parties involved in previous problems—most of all themselves. Encourage them to see forgiveness as the act of unhooking from the story they created about themselves and the other people involved in the problem. Forgiveness is as much a choice as a practice. In addition to letting young professionals see the many health and performance benefits of letting go and moving on, help them to stay in the forgiveness zone by focusing on how they want to feel when they have forgiven…once and for all. Encourage them to recreate this feeling in their bodies until it eventually sticks and their dress rehearsal becomes their final performance.

Kill Fear Mongering

No employees work well when they live in fear. While you may think it\’s benign or perhaps even a good thing for a young professional to believe that a missed deadline could be grounds for termination, fear is a lousy motivator and it makes a really great performance killer. If young professionals direct focus toward speed at the expense of turning out a high-quality product, you might be training them to make underperformance acceptable and habitual. Let them know that you are there for them when they are having issues with an assignment, and encourage proactive, transparent conversations so that you can co-create solutions.


Alexia Vernon is an author, speaker, International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, trainer, and media personality who specializes in helping organizations recruit, retain, educate, and grow their young professional workforce. In her book 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance, Alexia demonstrates how to achieve the goal of getting new employees oriented, integrated and trained within 90 days of their employment. As a member of Gen Y and with her unique approach to talent development, Alexia has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal, CBS MoneyWatch, FOX Business News, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, TheGlassDoor.com, and Mint.com.  To learn more visit www.AlexiaVernon.com and connect with Alexia on Twitter @AlexiaVernon.

Do Resumes Go Into a Black Hole? 3 Ways to Get Noticed

The Top 3 Ways to Get Your Resume Noticed in an Applicant Tracking System

In today\’s competitive marketplace, applying for a job can be an exercise in frustration.  The endless resume submission process can feel like a black hole when you don\’t receive a response. What can you do to get your resume past the gatekeeper and increase your chances of getting an interview?

As more and more recruiters are leveraging technology in their recruitment processes, here are 3 noteworthy tips to help get your resume reviewed faster!

  1. Tweak Your Resume

In the old days, that gatekeeper was often a secretary or maybe an HR hiring manager. However, many companies are now using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find the best candidates and eliminate manual processes like sorting through a pile of resumes. Before your application reaches someone in HR, it will first be reviewed through this ATS software.

Luckily, once you understand a few key elements of applicant tracking software, it\’s not as daunting as it might sound. The truth is, if you include all of your accomplishments and relevant past experience in your resume, the applicant tracking system can pick up on your skills and show you as an excellent fit for the position.

  1. Show Your Results

Every resume is stronger when it is results based.  Showing that you raised your department’s sales by 12% over your tenure shows sales and marketing skill—important for a sales and marketing position, which the ATS software will likely notice.  If you are applying for an entry level position and may not have past results to include, perhaps mention results from a significant club event you organized.

  1. Make Sure You Fit the Requirements

If the position calls for someone with 5-7 years of experience and you have 3, the software will pass you over.  For that matter, so will the HR manager; therefore, make sure you fit the requirements as closely as possible and remain realistic in your job hunt.

The use of applicant tracking systems to help with the hiring process is continuing to grow in today’s corporate world. ATS software is designed to help both the recruiter/hiring manager and the candidate by streamlining the hiring process to allow for open positions to be filled more quickly. By applying a few of the key tactics outlined above to your resume before you hit the “submit” button, you\’ll help ensure that your application will make it past the initial screening process and onto the desk of a hiring manager.

This guest post comes from iCIMS, which offers web-based applicant tracking system (ATS) solutions  for business of all sizes. iCIMS provides employee onboarding software to help streamline the hiring process in order to save time and reduce cost-per-hire. iCIMS’ talent management system can be tailored to fit your HR or recruiting needs. To learn more, visit their website or follow iCIMS on Twitter @iCIMS.

7 Steps to a Successful Performance Appraisal

The old adage tends to be true: you get out of things what you put into them. This advice applies well to employee performance appraisals. Managers and employees tend to complain about them and their value, but sometimes, putting in a little bit of effort means you’ll get better results.

You may think you\’re a “superhero” employee and as such, can coast through your next performance appraisal. After all, you\’ve met all your goals, perhaps even exceeded them, so what do you need to prepare? A lot in fact.

Think you're awesome? Prove it.

It\’s not just the responsibility of your manager to prepare for your performance appraisal meeting. You play a role in ensuring the meeting is productive and that you and your manager have a detailed discussion of your accomplishment and future career goals.

With that point in mind, here’s a list of suggestions we put together to help employees prepare for their next performance appraisal, so they get more out of it.

1. Gather Information on Your Performance and Development

Start by getting out your job description if you have one, and your last performance appraisal. Review your job responsibilities and the goals, competencies and development plans set out for you. Then gather any regular reports or notes on your performance that you’ve been keeping (e.g. weekly status reports, monthly summaries, project status reports). Next, get any letters, emails, certificates of recognition, awards, etc. that you’ve received praising your work. Finally, pull out any certificates of completion from any courses you’ve taken.
Review all these items in preparation for step 2.

2. Prepare a List of Your Accomplishments

Using your job description, goals and competencies for guidance, prepare a list of your accomplishments over the last period. Make sure you cover the whole period, not just the most recent weeks or months. Relate your accomplishments to your goals and to higher level organizational goals – how did you achieve your goals and help the company achieve its goals. Make sure you capture “how” and not just “what” you accomplished.

Also include any challenges that limited your abilities to succeed, as well as any support you received from others.

Your goal is to give your manager a summary of your accomplishments and any background information they need to understand and evaluate your performance.

3. Complete a Self-Evaluation

Even if your company doesn’t formally do them, it’s good idea to complete a self-evaluation. Use the official performance appraisal form if you can, and rate your performance on competencies and goals. Be honest in your ratings, and provide specific examples of your work to backup your ratings.

The goal is to reflect on your performance, so you can share your perceptions with your manager.

4. Prepare a Development Plan

Using the work you did in steps 1 through 3, identify any areas for development. Identify areas where you struggled or where others noted your performance lacked and make note of these. Reflect on areas where you would like to expand your skills/experience/expertise as part of your career growth and progression. And think about your learning style and how you best learn.

Then, do a bit of research into the training/development offered through your organization, professional associations, industry associations, etc, and make a list of potential learning activities that would help you improve your performance and advance your career. Don\’t forget to include things like reading lists, volunteer activities, work assignments, etc. Learning isn’t always done in a classroom.

5. Draft Goals for the Coming Period

Take a proactive approach and draft some possible goals based on your job description, your department or the organization’s higher level goals, your skills/experience/abilities, etc. Look for opportunities to expand your duties, broaden your knowledge, or take on more responsibility.

6. Share Your Preparations With Your Manager

Now, share your list of accomplishments, your awards/thank yous/certificates, your self-evaluation, your ideas for development and your draft goals with your manager. This will help them prepare for your meeting more effectively and will encourage a better dialogue between you.

7. Prepare an Open Mind

Finally, it’s important for you to prepare an open mind. Often we come to our performance appraisal meeting feeling a bit defensive. We’re bracing ourselves to hear criticism, or we’re jockeying for ratings/positioning that impact our compensation and advancement in the company.

Unfortunately, when we’re defensive, we don’t listen very well. Prepare yourself by trying to relax and let go of any defensiveness you’re aware of. Your goal should be to listen deeply to the feedback your manager provides you, as well as to their perspective on the goals and development plans they assign you.


It’s your performance appraisal, and your career! By putting some time and effort into preparing for your performance appraisal, you set yourself up for a successful review, and open up a meaningful two-way dialogue with your manager about your performance.

About the author: Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of performance management software. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen Software blog.

Kevin Eikenberry-The Virtues and Vices of Consistency

Today we have a guest post from Kevin Eikenberry, all-around brilliant guy and author of the new book From Bud to Boss. Let’s roll!

Most people value and admire consistency. From Cal Ripken, Jr\’.s consecutive game streak in baseball, to business longevity, to celebrating anniversaries and even birthdays; humans look for consistency, for plans and for stability. Most people see those traits as good things.

Compounding the interest and desire for consistency is the favor found in traditions. The meal you always have on a specific holiday, the things you do each Spring, fireworks on the Fourth of July in America, the list could go on and on…

There obviously are virtues to consistent performance, reliable processes and unchanging traditions. Yet, as with most everything in life, there is a flip side to these virtues too – the vices of these hallowed traditions and consistent actions.

You might be thinking… what could possibly be wrong with apple pie on my birthday or subscribing to the same magazine for 25 years or that popular annual Customer promotion?

While there might not be anything “wrong” with it; I\’m curious, have you considered that you might like another flavor of pie (or a cheesecake!) better? Or that maybe there is another magazine that better addresses your specific interests (which likely have drifted over 25 years), or that an entirely different promotion might do even better?

When you are blindly tied to consistency and tradition these vices can keep you from thinking, put you at risk of being out of step, expose you to settling for just good when something better exists, and preclude you from asking questions (the kinds of questions that could change everything for the better).

If you buy my idea that there are two sides to the consistency coin, then let\’s talk about what leaders can do to most effectively deal with – and take advantage of – both sides of that coin.

Balancing the Virtues and Vices

Human inclination is to “keep the tradition alive;” so, the advice that follows is more about opening your mind to the possibility that you could change that tradition. Having said that, realize these steps may leave you with the decision that the tradition should remain and continue to be cherished for what it is.

That\’s perfectly fine and is all part of the balance itself. You must be willing to look critically at everything, and then determine what can change and what must remain.

Five steps to consider

Identify the “sacred cows”. What are the things you don\’t ever look at? What are the things you never question, that you always do, or are considered politically “untouchable” in your organization? When you make this list you have taken the first step towards finding a greater balance – and possibly finding a tremendous opportunity for improvement.

Respect, but inspect. Each of those time honored procedures or traditions has value – or did at one time. As a leader, recognize the emotional connection or affiliation people may have towards these processes or approaches. Even if you expect to find change needed, respecting these practices is the best first step. This respect should be shown and felt as you inspect these processes and events for possible changes.

Do a relevancy check. Does the event, process or tradition support the current goals of your organization? Goals often (and should) change over time, and so it is appropriate to consciously take time to align all activities to the goals of the organization. If the tradition or process in question doesn\’t support your current organizational goals, why does it remain?

Rededicate your efforts. Your analysis may not produce a black and white answer (like this is good and should be kept, or this needs to be eliminated). Regardless of the complexity, the goal is to decide and act. Perhaps the tradition needs to stay; perhaps it needs to be adjusted; or perhaps it is time to recreate, re-fashion or more drastically change it. Whatever the decision, rededicate your efforts to making the process or tradition highly valuable and valued.

And, if your analysis determines that some change is required, remember to . . .

Recognize deeper challenges. If you are making changes to a long-held tradition, recognize that the resistance to change will be significant – it will perhaps even surprise you. In this case remember to be patient, to be respectful and to talk about the ‘whys\’ of the change early and often.

I love traditions as much as, if not more than, most. AND, I love change and the opportunities it brings. As a leader you must find this balance for yourself and your organizations.

Potential Pointer: Consistency and traditions can be of great value. They also can be a challenge when they obscure or work against your overall goals. As a leader it is your responsibility and opportunity to find the balance between change and consistency – choosing each at the appropriate time.

Kevin Eikenberry is the author of From Bud to Boss, a book for leaders transitioning into their new roles. If you are a new leader or know one, grab a copy of the book today!