Can They Prioritize?

Priorities

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I’m sure you know the meaning of prioritize, but I do like providing definitions.

“to put several things, problems, etc. in order of importance, so that you can deal with the most important ones first”

To be able to put things or problems in order of importance, one must know what their relative importances are.

Some employees will do what they are asked to do, what their manual says they should do and that’s that.

And that’s fine.

But that’s a baseline employee.

Bob has three tasks he needs to do. There’s only thirty minutes left in the work day. To do all three tasks is going to take an hour. What does he do?

He prioritizes.

He determines the order of importance of the three tasks and then takes care of them in that order.

What if the most important task will take up the entire thirty minutes and one of the other tasks is only a five minute task, but his supervisor urged him to get it done before he leaves?

What does Bob do?

Well, that’s part of prioritizing. He gets the five minute task done and then he pushes to get the thirty minute task done in twenty-five minutes, or he simply stays over five minutes to complete the task.

I realize this all sounds pretty simple, pretty straightforward. But we also know the ability to prioritize is not a strong suit for everyone.

The employee weak in this area will not do the five minute task and there likely will be some friction when he meets up with his supervisor the next day. Or this employee will do the five minute task, but leave the thirty minute task incomplete. This scenario may also see some friction the next day.

So, how can you determine if the person in front of you is good at prioritizing?

One way is to include this area of questioning when you speak to the applicant’s previous supervisors.

Another way is to compile a list of three, four of five tasks for the job in question and then ask the applicant to weigh them in order of importance.

You could have several of these lists put together.

It should not take a long time for the applicant to go through the tasks and give them an order of importance. If it does take awhile, not a great sign.

And your analysis of his sequence of importances will also be revealing.

An ability to prioritize is worth pursuing. Things will run smoother and be more productive.



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.


How Generous Is She?

generous employee

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Let’s look at two definitions of the word generous:

“Demonstrating a willingness to give more of oneself than is normally necessary or expected”

“Sympathetic in the way you deal with people; tending to see the good qualities in someone”

Two very interesting definitions.

The generous employee we’re considering here is not the employee who is willing to give away company resources. We’re not talking about Bob, the office manager, grabbing $50 from the cash drawer to help Alice with baby supplies.

We’re talking about a person who is generous with their own resources of time, money and effort.

How can we determine how generous someone is?

You could go about it this way:

“Allen, give me three examples of how you were generous at previous jobs.”

Observe how easily it is for Allen to come up with examples. If he comes up with them very easily, that’s a good sign. If it takes a bit of time, a bit of hemming and hawing, not the greatest sign.

Here’s another interesting approach:

“Allen, give me an instance at an earlier job where you wanted to be generous, but chose not to be.”

If you get a clear instance of this, find out why Allen decided not to be generous.

You’ll likely come up with your own methods of discovering how generous your applicant is.

I recommend doing so.

Generosity is a trait that can increase productivity and improve how smoothly things run.

Look for it when you can.

Encourage and reward it when you see 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.


Should We Stop Looking For Team Players?

Steve Jobs

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Jeff Altman, a recruiter for many years, shared this viewpoint in an article:

“Stop looking for team players. When you do, you announce that you don’t want people who can think and want people who are docile and obedient. You’re saying that Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell and a host of others should never apply to your firm.”

What do you think about that?

Do you think we should take “team player” out of the hiring equation?

Let’s look at this a bit.

If you’re looking for someone who will bring brilliant ideas to your company and you don’t care if he roughs up your current staff — then, well, have at it.

I imagine some of the greatest businessmen and women and some of the creative giants were difficult to get along with.

But may I emphasize the word: “some.”

Yes, some of the greatest leaders and creators in our world have been deficient in people skills.

Some.

I would say, however, that most of them have brought exceptional quality to both their creativity and leadership and to their ability to get along with others. We just don’t hear about them as much, do we?

If you get the idea that you can and should hire someone who is brilliant but is somewhat or even very abusive, then you’ve decided to be in a continual state of juggling his worth versus his harm to your company.

Here’s a very simple and direct question:

Is it possible you can find a brilliant individual, someone capable of bringing dramatic, positive change who also possesses that not-so-elusive ability to get along with others?

You can certainly answer that for yourself.

Here’s my answer:

Absolutely.

When you encounter a recommendation to undervalue qualities that you know are essential to your way of doing things, think twice and even a third time before you accept that advice.



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.


Are Soft Skills Eroding?

Eroding Soft Skills

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There are a number of definitions for “soft skills.”

One that I particularly like is:

“The personal attributes you need to work harmoniously with other people and succeed in the workplace.”

Another good one is:

“Desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive, flexible attitude.”

That last definition was interesting. “Desirable qualities for certain forms of employment…” — does that mean there are certain forms of employment where common sense, the ability to deal with people and a positive, flexible attitude are not important or desirable?

Perhaps that is the case, and if so, it brings us to the subject of this tip: “Are soft skills eroding?”

In my humble opinion, the most important soft skill is the ability to communicate…and communicate well.

That means being able to look at the person you’re talking to, giving them a clear statement of your ideas, listening exceptionally well and properly acknowledging the other person…and at the end of a communication, both parties fully understanding each other.

Kind of important, right?

Well, that soft skill may very well be eroding. Are you observing that in your interviews? In the performance of some of your new hires?

Is the skill of communication eroding because we are spending too much time looking at our phones, at our computer screens and not at each other?

Whatever the reason, YOU should not let your interest in soft skills wane. They are vital to the success of any business and a good number of business problems can be traced to employees deficient in them.

So, I’ll make a strong suggestion here. Regardless of who shows up to be interviewed, do not compromise on the soft skills. Hard skills can be taught…the soft ones, not so easily.



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.


Sample Work Versus Probational Hire

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Let’s start this tip off with the disclaimer that I am not an attorney, and if you have ANY questions on this, I recommend you contact your attorney and get legal advice.

I am familiar with the fact that when you hire someone, even on a probational basis, you are hiring them with the expectation they will be paid. That seems pretty straightforward, right?

To my knowledge, “sample work” is something different. You have not made a decision to hire but you would like to see how they would handle some aspect of their projected job.

Giving them sample work to do can provide you considerable insights.

Example:

You’re hiring a software programmer and you’d like to know how proficient they are technically.

Sample work:

Give them a problem to solve in the programming language you are using. Ideally, this problem has already been solved and you’ll see if 1) they can solve it on their own and 2) if they possibly can provide a better solution to what you already have.


 

Example:

You need someone to do collections.

Sample work:

Give them a list of five theoretical accounts. Each account has a name, an amount to be collected and what the status of the account is: recently due, past due 30 days, past due 60 days, etc. You will be the customer in this sample work. Have the applicant go through the process of calling you and working out getting a payment made. Could be a partial payment, could be a full payment. Give your applicant a variety of responses and see how she deals with each.


 

Example:

You need a receptionist.

Sample work:

This one seems pretty simple. Take the person through a series of calls coming in — with you making them and see how your applicant deals with each. You’ll probably need to set a few guidelines on who can be reached and what not, but you get the idea.


 

Example:

You need a salesperson.

Sample work:

Give your applicant a clear picture of what you sell, how much it costs, how it gets delivered, some of its features and benefits. Then take your applicant through several sample selling scenarios.

Some positions can give you “sample work” to carry out in the hiring interview better than other positions. But I’m thinking a considerable number of positions will give you this opportunity.

Finding out just how your applicant would handle things iF he were hired is a great tool for your hiring interview.



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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