LEADERSHIP EXPERT HOLLY LANDAU DISCUSSES SOME COMMON EMPLOYEE ISSUES AND OFFERS ADVICE ON HOW TO OVERCOME THEM AND LEAD YOUR TEAM TO SUCCESS.
This article was excerpted from OPEN Book: Leadership. Find more information and resources from OPEN including a podcast featuring Holly Landau at openforum.com/leadership.
In these economically challenging times, employee engagement is absolutely critical to your company’s success. You manage things like your budget, your time, and your inventory. You lead people. Leaders influence, inspire and motivate others toward success. There are many styles of leadership but the common goal is always the same. Holly Landau offers some guidelines about some of most common employee challenges and suggests ways for business owners to establish, implement and sustain successful employee engagement practices.
How do I identify and hire the right employees?
The first step is to identify the specific skill areas of the position that you’re trying to fill. For example, if you’re trying to find a customer service rep, you should be looking for someone who has a demonstrated ability to speak with enthusiasm and clarity and who has experience handling customer complaints; for a supervisor role, look for someone who has experience directing and delegating, and managing inventory.
After you have identified the skills needed, draw up some interview questions. One of the most common interview mistakes is a lack of preparation, with many busy employers only finding time to read a candidate’s application or résumé just minutes before the meeting. Use the application and/or résumé to help you formulate questions that will require a candidate to share real situations from their work history that demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses. These types of questions are called “behavior-based” because they are designed to give candidates an opportunity to discuss and explain how they accomplished work tasks and interacted with customers and other employees.
For example, rather than ask “Are you good with customers?” – which will likely generate a positive response but will allow a candidate to skirt the detail – you could ask, “I see that you have three years of retail experience. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you handle the situation and what was the impact?” This method also allows your candidate to do most of the talking.
Are job descriptions really necessary?
You may know where you want your employees to focus their attention during the working day, but they may not share the same vision. Job descriptions, even for very small businesses, can help identify areas of responsibility. Think of a job description as a map that will help your employees reach their workplace destination: successful performance. Creating a job description before you fill a role will help identify critical skill areas when you’re trying to hire the right person and will help a new employee focus on the priorities of their role from the first day of employment.
Equally as important are performance expectations. People want to know how their performance will be evaluated, and setting specific and realistic expectations can offer direction and provide clarity. Revisit performance expectations on a monthly or quarterly basis and readjust the expectations if business priorities shift. Refer to the performance expectations when awarding merit-based bonuses and raises, or as a justification for not awarding them.
Non-Behavior vs. Behavior-based interview questions
Are you willing to pitch in when necessary?
Give me an example of when you had to go above and beyond so your department would make its goal.
What are your weaknesses?
Tell me about a time when you weren’t able to complete a project at work.
How did you handle the situation and what did you learn from it?
Are you good with computers?
Give me an example of a project that required you to use at least two software programs.
Which programs did you use and how did you use them?
Holly Landau is the CEO of Landau Leadership, a consultancy that provides customized training and development solutions through an intergenerational team of curriculum designers, facilitators and leadership development experts located throughout the US.
Learn more about Holly Landau at:
landauleadership.com or openforum.com/landauleadership