September 12, 2013

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Image courtesy of cooldesign /
One of the most important components of an effective recruitment strategy is your recruitment plan.  Many times organizations attempt to fill a position without having thought through their plan and as a result, the process takes longer than they anticipated, they end up hiring someone that is not a right fit for the job or for the company and at the end of the day, they have wasted time and money and have to start over.  A recruitment plan can stop all of this from happening.

So what’s in the plan you ask?  7 easy steps – that’s it.  Let’s take a quick run through them:

Step 1.  Identify the Job Opening.  Once you have an identified job opening, that is a good time to consider what skills and abilities you really need in the position, in the department and in the company overall.  Update the job description and the job posting so that applicants can clearly see what you are looking for.  The more they can see themselves in the job, the better quality of applicant you will get.

Step 2:  Source Candidates.  Post your job everywhere – use online job boards, LinkedIn and other social media outlets, your own website careers page, and of course, tell your other employees.  An employee referral program is an excellent way to find future employees.

Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich /
Step 3:  Screen & Shortlist.  Set clear criteria for what you are looking for and review resumes for those people who meet your criteria.  Have a 10 minute screening phone call with those people so that you can narrow down the number of interviews you hold.  The screening call is great to find out if someone is worth more of your time at an interview and it is also a great way to sell the applicant on your company.  Encourage them to look at your website and to review the job description so that they are really clear on what you are looking for.

Step 4:  The Interview.  Interviews can be as formal or informal as you like, however, remember that your applicant should be the one doing all the talking so plan ahead and have a list of questions you want to ask.  This will ensure that you find out as much as possible about the applicant by the end of the interview.   Make sure you leave time at the end of the interview for them to ask questions of you – those questions are really telling as to their motivation for applying for the job.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Step 5:  Reference Checking.  This is a step not to be skipped.  Many organizations don’t bother with reference checking however it is a great way to validate your thinking.  Are you right in thinking that the applicant will be great at customer service?  Did they really run the project or were they just helping out from the sidelines?  Reference checking is the best opportunity you have to make sure that you are on point with your hiring decision.

Step 6:  Job Offer.  Ideally, throughout the recruitment process you have been selling your organization as a great place to work.  This makes the job offer process a lot simpler as the candidate will have already decided they want the job and is dying for you to make the offer.  The best way to manage the job offer is to negotiate a win/win solution so that you are both happy with the result.  This ensures that everyone starts off on the right foot.

Step 7.  On-boarding.  Your recruitment plan does not end with the acceptance of a job offer.  A new employee’s first 90 days on the job are the most important.  You want them to fall in love with the work, with the company and with you so that they stop job searching and commit to staying.  Retention is the best outcome you can ask for from a good recruitment plan!

So there you go.  A 7 step recruitment plan that ensures that you have a good job that attracts the right kind of candidates so that when they accept your job offer you are both thrilled to start the working relationship!  Here is a handy onepage flow chart outlining the steps to your plan.

Enjoy the planning process, dedicate the time and the rewards will be plentiful!

September 06, 2013

Top 3 Costly Mistakes When Hiring!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles,  /
Engaged HR is often hired to help organizations navigate their way through the recruitment and hiring process.  Through this experience, we have learned the good, the bad and the ugly ways to hire staff.  Here are some of the lessons learned!

1.  Rushing it never pays off.  Many organizations rush through the hiring process in an attempt to get someone into a position as quickly as possible. Tight deadlines on accepting applications, lack of strategy when structuring hiring panels, skipping reference checks have all proven to cost employers time and money and result in bad hires.  Taking time with each of the critical components of the hiring process will ensure you hire someone who is the best fit with your organization in the long run. As you head towards critical business periods, be careful that you aren't short cutting the process and as a result, short changing yourself of a successful hire.

2.  Lack of clarity creates confusion.  Before you post your position and ask for resumes, be sure that you are clear what position you are hiring for, and what skills are most needed to do a good job.  Take a moment and reflect on whether the position is really needed, is described properly to ensure you attract the right kind of candidates, and above all, is the position you actually are hiring for.  Many times I have sat in interviews with a client only to have them ask about skills that aren't relevant to the position.  When I ask why, it is because they really want someone to do an entirely different job than the one they are hiring for.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs /
3.  Settling is costly.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  This is so true when it comes to recruitment.  You are better to implement some different strategies and to get creative with your attraction strategy than to settle for the best you could find at the moment that you looked.  A wrong hire always costs you money.

We have all been guilty of these errors in our recruitment and hiring processes.  The best thing to do when it happens is to learn from it and look for ways to never repeat it!

Download this one page summary of the critical components of the hiring process, provided by Engaged HR.   

Email for more information and to talk about how Engaged HR can assist you to avoid these mistakes!

June 12, 2013

What does your name tag say?

This week I have been staying at the Stamford Sheraton Hotel in Stamford, CT for some training and I just had to share this story with you!  I was making my way through the buffet line during the lunch break and I couldn't help but notice the name tag of the server standing beside me.  It said his name and underneath that it said Connected to: Social Work. I couldn't help myself - I had to ask!

What does your name tag mean?
Not the real name tag! Source:

Well, this older gentleman's face lit up like a firecracker and he told me all about the volunteer work that he does with the local immigrant services organization.  He helps people who are new to the US figure out how to manage their new life.  He told me that he benefited from this help when he immigrated and he wanted to give back to the organization that helped him by helping others.  WOW!  Did he have pride in his story!  He stood up straighter, he grinned from ear to ear and he emanated warmth and kindness as he spoke about what was obviously very meaningful to him.  It was so heart-felt and touching to have this interaction with this man.  (I asked to take his photo but he was quite shy about it and declined, he did give me permission to tell his story though when I told him I wanted to write a blog post about him!)

So, I have to give kudos to Sheraton Hotels for encouraging people to bring their whole self to work!  Every employee has something on their name tag that means something to them beyond their job - I asked a few other employees and they all reacted in the same way - they loved that they were asked, they lit up when they told their story and they left the conversation smiling from being able to share what is meaningful to them.  Powerful stuff!

Locally for me, which is in Victoria, BC, Canada, I know of another hotel that does this very well - Accent Inns.  They have also revolutionized the use of name tags.  Just as Mandy Farmer, CEO - I mean, Bike Lover!

I believe strongly that employees want to bring everything that are and everything that they believe to their work - and this is one small step towards encouraging employees to do this!  Very cool!

Of course, I also have to ask you - what does your name tag mean?

May 13, 2013

Help! My New Employees Burn Out!

Has this happened to you?  You hire a new employee and they are doing great!  They are eager, competent and picking up on the work really quickly.  You like working with them and things seem to be going great!  Then, in your three month review meeting with the employee, they mention that they are really struggling with the adjustment to their new position.  They are overwhelmed with information and are feeling inadequate.  They thought it would get better once they settled in but they are finding that they are really tired and feeling a little burned out. They are in fact, re-considering their choice to take the position and feel that they may need to leave.

So what do you do?

Well, first of all, know that this is very common with new employees!  The first few months on a job involves so many new things – a new schedule, a lot of new learning, a new boss which can create a feeling of being on display and evaluated all the time, meeting new people, having lots of new details to remember, it is frankly exhausting!  So it is common for new employees, especially those who want to do a good job and may have some perfectionist tendencies, to really give it their all during this period and that is just not sustainable. So, as time goes on they feel more and more tired and start to question if the job is something they can do.  In positions that have a big learning curve, the feelings of inadequacy can be even stronger as the employee can feel like they have forgotten everything they knew coming in, never mind remembering all the new stuff they have been told since they started!

What tends to work in this situation is to first acknowledge what is going on for the person.  Acknowledge all that they have learned and all that they have been adjusting to.  This helps to normalise how they are feeling.  Then, take a break from new learning.  Give the employee time to adjust and settle.  Take a couple of weeks off from anything new or from changing things for the person.  Settle on a schedule if it is changing all the time.  No new projects for a bit.  No new videos to watch or books to read.  No new responsibilities.  The employee is fatigued from the newness of everything so giving time to the situation and letting them settle in so that things start to feel less new will be helpful.  Keep up the reinforcement that they are doing a good job and that they are meeting expectations.  If they employee feels that the only way to do a good job is to always be doing something new, that is a lot of pressure and also exhausting!  So, continue to reinforce that good performance is happening on a daily basis within their regular job.

When I was responsible for employee orientation in a technology company, we started employees with a 3 day orientation workshop that involved the sharing of a lot of information.  I would end that session by telling them that there were some things that they could expect to happen over the next few months – and some of these things were not easy!  For example, I would tell them that they would sometimes feel overwhelmed, that they would be more tired than normal, that they would question their abilities at times and that they would probably get sick.  This is all typical of joining a fast paced company that involves a very large learning curve, regardless of the position you are in.  So, I encouraged them to talk to their manager if they were feeling any of these things, to get more sleep that normal and to take care of themselves to ward off getting sick.  I wanted them to feel normal – to know that this happens to everyone that joins the company – and that everyone lives through it and they will too!  Was there a better way for us to orient employees – probably – but at least talking about it helped in the short term!

What about your orientation process? What are you doing to help new employees balance all the new learning in their first few months on the job?

April 07, 2013

The Reluctant Online Networker - What's That?

Have you heard of the term "digital influence"?  Do you have it?  With the explosion of social media, we are now "social networking" which means that we are connecting, networking and building community in a whole new way. We have moved from being a part of in-person communities to also contributing to online communities and with that, our reputation, or our "personal brand", has taken on a whole new meaning.

This idea began to form in my mind when I watched the Social Media Revolution 2013.

It explicitly talks about the brand that we are becoming and the role Social Media has to play.  All made sense.  Then I read this article on - 2013: The Year of Social HR.  It talks about the role of personal brand in our careers.  Put this all together and I started to think about how we are networking online, how we are building connections and creating our personal brands.

So, in addition to a workshop for The Reluctant Networker (which is about networking in person), I also created a workshop about networking online, to generate some discussion, to share some of these thoughts and to intersect the concepts of networking and personal branding.  The Reluctant Online Networker will make for an interesting workshop! 

The number of ways we can be online is also overwhelming, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Goggle +, Pinterest.....the list goes on and on.  This workshop is not about learning how to tweet or how to post on Facebook. It is about understanding what it means to be "social" online and how to manage it.

Welcome to the world of digital influence! Learn how to consciously build community, manage your online presence and build your personal brand. Whether you are looking for work, building your business or just wanting to know who to connect with on Linked In, this workshop will help you be intentional with your online presence.

This workshop will help you build your personal brand, manage your digital influence, and identify ways you can build your network, be of service to others and make great connections, even friends, all online!

Workshop to be held in Fall 2013.

Are you a Reluctant Networker?

Does the term “networking” send shivers of dread down your spine?  Have you ever skipped an event because you just couldn’t bring yourself to enter a room filled with people you didn’t know? Perhaps you have stood at an event pretending to be on the phone because you didn’t have anyone to talk to?  Well guess what – it doesn’t have to be like this!

I can't tell you the number of people who stare at me like I have lost my marbles when I say that.  They can't imagine ever thinking that networking would be something they will enjoy doing.  And then I tell them my secret.  And it shifts them. It changes their perception and it makes them see networking in a whole new way.

So, I decided to offer this secret in a workshop - to bring people together and to give people the chance to find out how I did it; how I went from being a very, very reluctant networker to an engaged networker. And now you can find out the secret too!

It is time to change the way you network!  Not just change the way you think about networking – no more shiver of dread for you – but instead, to give you tools, techniques and a new perspective on what networking is and can be.  Networking isn’t about getting your business card into the hands of as many people as possible.  Those days are over.  Networking is about building relationships, helping people and connecting on a number of levels.

I have super excited about the new workshop series I am offering! One of the workshops is The Reluctant Networker (ongoing dates with the next one April 25, 2013).  The other workshop is The Reluctant Online Networker (ongoing dates with the next one May 15, 2013).

This Reluctant Networker workshop will help you identify ways you can build your network, be of service to others and make great connections, even friends, along the way!

Here are some thoughts from those who have taken the workshop:

"Excellent! Confirmed what I know but took things to a whole new level with techniques, strategies and better goals."

"Great knowledge and being a "reluctant networker" herself, Denise is able to put herself in the shoes of her participants."

"I left this workshop with new insights into how to do my best and most effective networking while being true to myself.  I have practical ways to reduce my reluctance and increase my sense of connection."

So, now it is your turn. Are you ready to go from Reluctant Networker to Engaged Networker?

Next workshop to be held in Fall 2013.

March 01, 2013

Work from home? Apparently that doesn't work...

Everyone has been all a twitter about Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer's recent memo telling all Yahoo employees that as of June they have to stop working at home and come into the office.  There have been all kinds of debate both for and against this move.  I am not going to get into all that - there are plenty of people weighing in on the issue.

What I am asked all the time though, is how to make working from home successful, even if just for a day or two.  Small organizations rely on people being at work to get the job done. And some jobs, well, they just aren't conducive to working from home. 

Here is a quick list of things to ask yourself when employees say "I'm going to work from home today."

What are they working on?  Sometimes a heads-down, concentrated block of time to work on a project can make all the difference in getting something completed.  Many interruptions in a day can make it difficult to do work that requires an attention to detail, or a focused, concentrated effort.  Sometimes however the work that needs to be done is serving clients, attending in-person meetings and being at the office.  It is important to distinguish what work is the priority.  If getting that project done is a priority, then working on it at home might just be the answer. 

What results are expected?  Set a clear deliverable for what work is going to be accomplished in the time that they are working from home. This is best achieved when there is follow up afterwards that provides opportunity to see the results.  Check in with the employee on what was achieved - not from a control freak point of way - but from a "how are things going?" perspective.  For the employee, it shows that you were paying attention to the work they did accomplish and if they are not getting results, it is an opportunity to ask for assistance.

Are they going to be missed?  Make sure that co-workers are not going to be hampered in achieving their work deliverables because this employee is not going to be around.  Working from home can be good for one person but may cause challenges for others on the team.  Have a clear expectation that others aren't going to be inconvenienced by the employee's absence.

Are they going to be accessible?  When employee's work from home the fear is that they are actually doing other things during the day and might actually be working on the work project at night.  Does this matter?  Flexible schedules are an excellent retention tool, and the opportunity to go on a field trip with a child's class might work out if the work is still completed that night.  Clarify expectations if you expect the person working from home to be available on email and phone throughout the day.  Here's a tip for employees - if working at home in the evening is the actual plan, be open and transparent about it.  It builds trust and let's you be away with a clear mind and conscience !

Asking these questions can make life a whole lot easier when an employee asks to work from home.  And if you are already getting emails from employees that are making the assumption that they can work from home, spending time with them on these questions may cause them to think twice about whether it is an appropriate choice to make.

January 18, 2013

Don't Ask - Don't Tell Lives On

I have recently been experiencing my own version of Don't Ask - Don't Tell and it has taught me something very interesting.  Here's what happened....

Recently I took a tumble down a small flight of stairs.  A risk of wearing wide leg pants and high heels, not paying attention and slow reflexes!  Turned out ok, didn't break anything, but did get a hum-zinger of a bruise on my right wrist.  It was 50 shades of purple, green and yellow for over a week.  Looking back, I wish I had taken a picture of it!  It is about 4 inches in length and about 2 inches wide, starting right at the base of the wrist. Let's just say that it was very noticeable!Since this happened, I have made no attempt to cover up the bruise. Also since this has happened, I have been in a number of meetings and at events with many friends, colleagues and clients, and of course some people I hadn't met yet.

Many of whom noticed the bruise.  Some knew I saw them notice and some didn't know that I knew they had seen it.  It was awkward.

Why was it awkward?  Because NO ONE asked me about it.  Instead, they looked away.  

Here is what was playing in my head:  Do I mention it if they don't?  What are they thinking about me right now? Do they think this was from my husband?  It is perfectly placed as if someone grabbed my wrist.  If I explain it will they think I am covering something up?  My partner is amazing, has tremendous respect for women and it would never even cross his mind to be violent so now I feel like I am letting him down by not explaining and yet also wonder why I feel the need to explain it at all....

Awkward moment passes and I try and forget about it. 

Don't Ask - Don't Tell lives on.
As an HR Practitioner, I can't help but apply this to the workplace.  What if I saw an employee with a big bruise like this. Would I ask about it? 

Yes, I hope I would.  I would ask out of care and concern and also out of a sisterhood feeling of checking in with another woman to see what is going on in her life.  It doesn't feel good to have suspicion in our world, but if it can show a woman who may be in trouble that there are people out there that want to help, then I am OK with showing a bit of suspicion.  She may not tell me the truth, and I would take her at her word, but if she is lying, then she knows that maybe next time, she can tell the truth. 

WorkSafeBC has this video to offer on the topic:

Domestic violence shows up in the workplace.  In fact, it is considered to be workplace violence because the consequences of what happens at home, impacts every facet of a person's life.  And domestic violence doesn't always show up in a bruise.  Have you ever had a person who is "not allowed" to participate in social events outside work?  Or perhaps you have a co-worker who is constantly being called or texted by their partner and they are showing signs of discomfort when in contact with the caller.

Workplaces have a responsibility to help those who may be in a violent situation and there are a number of resources available to assist with designing programs, training staff and learning how to address domestic violence with dignity and respect. 

Here are some tools and resources:
Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: A Handbook for Employers (BC)
Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: A Handbook (Ontario)
Guidelines for creating a safe workplace
Domestic Violence in the Workplace - Warning Signs

If you are interested in being proactive in your organization, Engaged HR would be happy to help you navigate this topic.

What about you, would you have asked about my bruise?