Four Common Myths About Teams

Humans are social animals and spend much of their time working in groups and teams, yet most people don’t understand the dynamics of effective teamwork. That is not to say people do not recognize good teamwork when they see it, but many do not know what to do in order to get people to work together effectively. Some of this confusion is due to the following misunderstandings about teams and teamwork: Read More »

Meet the Show-Off

You’ve seen him around the office – the life of the party, the guy with the novelty necktie, and funny but slightly offensive slogan on his coffee mug. All the world is a stage, and he’s got the leading role. After all, you don’t get ahead in this world without standing out.

Read More »

3 Steps to Better Hiring

In his recent Wall Street Journal article, “Software Raises Bar for Hiring,” David Wessel raises some interesting talent acquisition questions: As candidate pools have grown exponentially in the struggling economy and screening processes have become more efficient and cost-effective through the use of various software solutions, have organizations become overly stringent in their job requirements? Are employers cutting training programs, and therefore costs, based on the idea that they will be able to find someone in the vast pool of available workers who have the skills they require?

It seems that many organizations make the mistake of setting forth myriad requirements in their job requisitions, which are then programmed into software solutions used to screen out candidates early in the selection process. As a result the organization fails to find anyone for the job. At the same time, unemployed workers apply to positions for which they believe they are well qualified only to find themselves dropped from the selection process based solely on an initial application or resume submission. In the end frustration abounds – organizations are frustrated by the lack of “qualified” talent, and job seekers are frustrated by organizations that eliminate them from the selection process based solely on an initial screen.

Individual organizations can take steps to increase the likelihood of finding the right person for the job, regardless of what that job might be.

1. Carefully define job requirements

If your organization is struggling to find qualified candidates, make sure you are evaluating the must-haves that an individual needs to be successful in the job. You might find that you have been focusing on nice-to-haves (additional years of experience, advanced degrees for jobs that don’t require them) that do not truly differentiate high and low performance on the job.

2. Focus on competencies, not experience

It is also important to consider what the employee needs day one on the job. Instead of looking for someone who has performed the exact same type of work before, focus on finding a candidate with the core competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and traits) required to be successful and supplement that talent with organization or job-specific training and education.

3. Take a whole employee life cycle approach

Organizations would also be wise to take a whole employee life cycle approach that includes recruitment, selection, development and retention. In some fields, such as engineering and IT, numerous opportunities are available to experienced workers, and organizations may find it hard to hold onto strong talent. When recruiting and hiring employees, ensure that the candidates you select are a good fit not just for a particular job, but also for your overall culture and work environment. Once employees are on the job, take steps to contribute to their professional development and keep them engaged. Depending on your structure this may include identifying high potentials to include in succession planning efforts, but don’t overlook middle-of-the-road performers who are your organization’s backbone – make sure they have opportunities to grow and develop their skills.

Talent acquisition and management are complex processes, but careful planning at each step will help your organization hire and retain the right talent. Using selection techniques that identify candidates with the potential for success and focusing on onboarding, development, and engagement post-hire will go a long way towards ending employers’ and job seekers’ frustration.

Teams are the Building Blocks of Human Achievement

Western societies tend to attribute success to individuals – Hannibal is often seen as the leader who conquered much of the land surrounding the Mediterranean and it was Steve Jobs who transformed Apple into one of the world’s most valued companies. But these individuals would have failed had they worked alone. Hannibal’s success can be rightly attributed to assembling a highly effective army; Steve Jobs’ success depended on highly talented product developers and software engineers. Hannibal and Jobs not only had a knack for gathering the right cast of characters, they were also very adept at putting the right people in the right positions and getting everyone to work together effectively. More often than not, less talented individuals who work well together often accomplish more than talented individuals who play dysfunctional family feud. Despite the fact that all major human accomplishments have been the result of collective rather than individual efforts, systematic research on groups and teams is a relatively recent phenomenon. Read More »

Are You Employable?

  College graduates face a harsh reality regarding their career prospects. According to the New York Times, recent graduates are entering the toughest job market in the last quarter of a century; only 56 percent are employed in jobs that require a college degree, 22 percent are working in jobs that do not require a college degree, and 22.4 percent aren't working at all. Read More »

Meet the Over-Committer

She’s the one with the can-do attitude. The boss needs that proposal by tomorrow? No problem. Have a 3 a.m. conference call? She’ll be there. You need 10,000 copies correlated and stapled? She can do that, too. Sure, she may over commit, but you don’t get ahead by saying “no.”

Read More »

Playground to C-Suite: Bullying Behavior Causes Derailment

  Bullying is a topic that has been widely covered in the news recently. Schools are instituting and actively enforcing policies against bullying to prevent physical and psychological distress against those being bullied. Although we most frequently think of bullying in a school context, this sort of hair pulling, name calling, and harassing behavior is not limited to the elementary school playground or the high school locker room. Read More »

Q&A with Dr. Hogan: Leadership 101

Leadership is one of the most important topics in the social, behavioral, and organizational sciences. When good leadership prevails, organizations and people prosper. Bad leadership is almost always accompanied by inevitable bankruptcies, corporate corruption, and business disasters. Yet, according to Dr. Robert Hogan, the keys to effective leadership are still largely misunderstood. In the following interview, Hogan, answers several common questions regarding effective leadership.What is leadership?Leadership is not being in charge; many people who are in charge of teams and organizations are either lucky or are good politicians and have no talent for leadership. Leadership should be defined as the ability to build and maintain a high-performing team that bests the competition. In turn, leadership should be evaluated in relation to the performance of the team.What influences good leadership?Being able to evaluate the talents of the team members to be sure the right people are on the team, the wrong people are off the team, and the right people are in the right positions. Good leadership also involves developing a good strategy for the team, so that it can outperform the competition.How can we measure corporate leadership?The best way to measure leadership in corporations is in terms of the performance of the team or unit of which the leader is in charge. The second best way to measure leadership is to ask the members of the team to evaluate the performance of their leader. Subordinates’ evaluations of leaders are a good proxy or substitute for measures of overall team performance.How can we identify and grow corporate leaders?The wrong way to identify leaders is to ask the senior people which junior leaders they like. The typical high potential program is more about politics than talent. The quickest, most cost effective and most objective way to identify and grow leaders is by using a systematic assessment process. Well-validated assessments can be used to identify leadership potential and to give the potential leaders feedback regarding their strengths and developmental needs.Are men better leaders than women?Men are not better leaders than women. There are as many incompetent male leaders as there are incompetent female leaders. When women are good, they are just as good as men; when they are bad, they are just as bad as men.Is there any shift in managing younger leaders? Are their values different from their bosses?Good values are good for business; bad values are bad for business. Some older people have good values, some have bad values. Some younger people have good values, some have bad values. Working hard and wanting to do a good job is important for young people and older people. Everyone, young and old, needs to understand customer service. Integrity is as important for younger people as it is for older people. Being a good colleague and good team player is as important for younger workers as it is for older workers. The strange haircuts, tattoos, and clothing styles that young people prefer are irrelevant to job performance.What is leadership failure?If a leader gets fired, that is failure. If the team performs poorly, that is failure. If the team members hate their leader and refuse to work for him/her, that is failure. If the team has high rates of absenteeism, turnover, and accidents, and low levels of productivity and morale, and poor ratings for customer service, that is failure.What causes leadership failure?Leadership failure results from a leader being unable to build and maintain a high performing team. This is usually because the leader: (a) is untrustworthy; (b) makes bad decisions; (c) lacks competence in and knowledge of the business; (d) has no vision for the team. Leaders who lie, steal, cheat, play favorites, bully their subordinates, and are unable to control their emotions are usually seen as untrustworthy, the most important factor contributing to leadership failure.Can leadership failure be prevented?The best way to prevent leadership failure is to promote people into leadership positions who have some talent for leadership in the first place. The best way to evaluate leadership potential is to ask people who have worked for the person in question. The most cost-effective, quickest, and most objective way to evaluate leadership potential is with well validated psychological assessments.