How Well Do They Collaborate?

Revised workload

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I was listening to a podcast earlier today about different business strategies and the subject of collaboration came up. After working with quite a few companies, the speaker concluded this was a weak link for many of them.

He felt that perhaps some of this was due to the original formation of the word itself.

“Collaborate” had as one of its earlier or perhaps earliest meanings: “to cooperate with the enemy.” I recall from various stories and movies about World War 2, a collaborator was someone who helped the Germans in various countries they had invaded.

Well, I’m not so sure this earlier definition would be a reason that people in today’s workplace might have a difficult time working with others.

But the ability to work with others IS an important quality to look for when hiring.

A business can grow nicely or be severely held back solely on the amount of cooperation that occurs amongst its individuals and groups.

Does the marketing department work well with the sales department and vice versa? Or do they give each other lip service and just go about doing things the way they want to. Or worse, are they at odds because each department “knows best”?

But let’s concentrate here on one person’s ability to collaborate: your applicant.

How well can she work with others?

Does she work well with others because management wants her to, or because she herself believes it’s the best way to get things done?

Let’s find out.

“Alice, tell me about a couple of projects you’ve done at previous companies that required a considerable amount of collaboration on your part.”

Or, “Frank, tell me about a time when you observed something was not going to get done on time or was not going to get done very well unless you personally cooperated with the others involved at a much higher level than you are used to.”

Of course, you’ll want to listen for what Alice and Frank did that showed they were actually working WITH other people.

But you want to be listening for something more. You want to see if Alice or Frank felt they were making things succeed because of their personal involvement OR if they really understood the value of working WITH other people as the compelling force at work.

And maybe even one more thing to keep your radar tuned for: did they enjoy the collaboration?

If your applicant feels collaboration is a valuable means of getting things done and if they genuinely enjoy doing so, well, I’d say you’ve got a keen insight into a potential employee.

Would you agree?



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Contribution Goes Both Ways

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A good number of us are searching for that new employee who will come on board and contribute at a very high level.

We envision this person quickly grasping the duties of the position and working hard and smart. We see this person getting along super well with other employees, being extra productive and, in just about every way, being an ideal employee.

Is there anything wrong with this picture?

Of course not. There’s everything right in wanting that phenomenal employee who not only produces like mad, but helps others around them produce more than usual.

I’ll mention two components here that will help you attract and keep such an employee.

1) Advertise to prospective employees that you’re looking for people who want to contribute at a very high level AND who expect that same contribution coming back to them.

2) Deliver on your end of it.

I’m going to assume you’re willing to carry out number 2 here.

So what are some ways you can do that?

The obvious one is to pay someone what they’re worth. If they produce like gangbusters for you, and their contribution has a tangible effect on your bottom line, then exchange accordingly.

But there are other ways to contribute back to real producers.

The first and most overlooked one is:

Acknowledging them for what they do.

When they produce well, let them know you appreciate it.

“Bob, you did a fabulous job with that client.”

“Mary, you really handle the daylights out of the reception area. It makes a real difference around here.”

“Frank, I really appreciate you putting in the extra time to get that project done. You’re a real life saver!”

A little acknowledgement goes a long way. Just remember the last few times somebody genuinely validated you for a job well done.

There are other ways to show your appreciation. Perks of various kinds. The key point of this tip is:

The best way to attract and keep top producers is to convince them you know that contribution goes both ways and then keep your end of it.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Did Curiosity Really Kill the Cat?

Curious Cat!

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Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “curiosity killed the cat” which serves as a warning against doing too much investigation or experimentation.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t curious about things.

When I was five years old, I wondered what those two small holes were in the wall. I was not aware of any of the properties of an electrical socket. So I went to the kitchen, got a small knife and stuck the knife into one of the holes. I wanted to see what would happen, if anything.

Well, something definitely happened.

Sparks flew out and completely singed my eyebrows. Add some black marks to my forehead and I was quite a sight.

When my dad got home and saw me, he asked me what happened. Before I could answer, my brother rushed in and demanded to know how I was going to be punished. My dad said, “he’s already been punished” and walked out of the room.

Yes, yes, I learned not to put a knife into an electrical socket.

What does this all mean from a hiring perspective?

From where I stand, being curious about things is an excellent quality.

Curious people find better and faster ways to get things done. They ask customers questions that reveal important facts that can help you improve service. Curious salespeople, in my humble opinion, close more sales.

Curious people want to learn more about what goes on around them. Let’s hope that quality never dies in any of us.

How can you tell how curious someone is?

The curious person will ask you about your end of things. Now, there are the usual questions applicants ask but if you find someone asking very specific questions and trying to get a better sense of how your company does business, then I see that as a plus.

There’s a response to the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” that we don’t often hear, but I’ll mention it here:

Satisfaction brought him back.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


The “You’re Not Qualified” Approach

Hire Me Sign

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Now this is probably more of a “trick” than an approach, but I read about this being used in a job interview and I can see how it could be effective.

Let’s set the scene.

You have someone in front of you that you believe IS qualified for the position. After you finish your interview, you sit back in your chair, sigh, and say, “Well, Alice, I do appreciate you taking the time to come in today, but it appears you are very unqualified for this position.”

And then you say nothing and wait for Alice to respond.

If Alice buckles and simply agrees, well, you’ve detected a lack of confidence on her part.

But she may protest and say, “With all due respect, I believe I’m more than qualified for the position.”

At which point, of course, you smile broadly and tell her you agree and that you were just kidding.

Yes, it’s a bit on the mean side, but you’ll definitely gain an insight into how confident your applicant is.

What if Alice frowns and says, “thank you for your time. I guess I’ll get going.”

Well, you’ve got two choices there. If you really like the candidate and the hit on her confidence didn’t bother you, you could blurt out that you were just kidding.

However, if her level of confidence was a deciding factor, then of course move on to your next applicant.

If you do hire Alice, she may think you’re a bit of an oddball for running an interview in that way, but hey, it’s your interview and it’s up to you to find out as much as you can about future performance.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


The “We’d Like to Keep You Here” Interview

Applicant with parachute

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We’re all familiar with the hiring interview, the one that convinces us to hire Fred. His résumé and test scores were great, his previous employers spoke highly of him and the interview went exceptionally well.

After Fred’s been with you for six months, you realize he’s everything you thought he’d be when you first hired him. He not only performs at a very high level, he gets things done ahead of time and inspires the staff around him. You breath a huge sigh of relief knowing that Fred is a fabulous fit for your company.

Now it’s time for another interview. Let’s simply call this the “We’d Like to Keep You Here” interview.

You might have this three months after you’ve hired Fred or nine months in. When you conduct this interview is up to you. But, I’d recommend doing this before you sense Fred might be looking elsewhere.

You want to find out where Fred is at in relation to his job, his coworkers and the company itself.

Of course you may not want to start this interview off by telling Fred the name we coined here for the interview.

And maybe you find out what you need to know without conducting a formal interview. You could take Fred out to lunch and in that informal environment find out what you need to know.

So, what do you need to know? Here are a few items to cover:

What do you enjoy about working with us?

What do you find challenging?

What do you like the least about your job?

Are there any co-workers you are having difficulty with?

What would you like to see improved or changed here?

Are you thinking about going elsewhere and if so, I’m prepared to quadruple your pay right now!

Well, scratch that last one.

Here’s the thing. Some of us have great staff that just hang in there with us forever and a year. And sometimes a gem of an employee has an itch to move on.

If Fred has that itch, you may not be able to do anything to keep him with you, but if you’re pro-active, you just may.

The questions above are a starting point in this. You want Fred to know you appreciate him and you appreciate his input. Not just on the day-to-day things, but also for the long view.

Sometimes it can be little, irritating things that cause our Fred to move on. And Fred may consider it unprofessional to make these things known.

Or maybe Fred has an idea that he thinks would be incredible for the company but doesn’t want to be presumptuous and keeps it to himself.

But you’re going to be pro-active, right? You’re going to find out what’s on Fred’s mind: good, bad and indifferent. And with that information, you’ll figure out what to do.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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