Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Keep your Next Meeting on Track

There’s nothing more annoying than a meeting that goes on and on. Whether you’re getting ready for a weekly team meeting or convening a larger group to discuss your company's or department’s strategy, as a manager it’s your job to make sure people don’t go off on tangents or hog speaking time. But how can you keep people focused without squashing their creativity?
Make the Purpose Clear
You can head off a lot of problems by stating the reason for getting together right up front. Create and send an agenda and any background materials ahead of time. This way, everyone understands the objective of the meeting and the necessary preparation. The agenda will also act as a schedule for the meeting and outline all of the topics that must be addressed. Consider including a list of things that won’t be discussed in the meeting as well.

Control the Meeting Size
Meetings can get out of control if there are too many people in the room. Only include those who are critical to the meeting topic and can provide enough diversity of opinion.

Manage the Ramblers
It can be tough to cut off someone who is a rambler or speaking off topic. However, it's sometimes necessary to do so. For someone who is prone to rambling, talk with him/her ahead of time or during a meeting break. Ask that s/he keep comments to a minimum to allow others to be heard.

Meeting Timing
Consider scheduling meetings that end either at lunch time or at the end of the work day. You'll be surprised how few people will ramble when they want the meeting to finish on time.

End the Meeting Well
End on the right note to set the stage for the work to continue. Identify what you see as the next steps, who should take responsibility for them, and what that time frame will be. Record all of the points discussed and the open questions to be answered. Then, send out a meeting summary email so that everyone is on the same page.

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...
David Schuchman

Monday, September 1, 2014

Good Interview Practices: The Hiring Manager's Perspective

As a hiring manager, you may underestimate the value of a well-planned interview and interview process. It makes good sense to go the extra mile to ensure that the process is thorough so that the final result is rewarding for you and the organization. Not taking this process seriously can mean a poor employee selection, which will also cause your management to look poorly upon you and your decision.
Do Your Homework
If the position is a new one, make sure that all stakeholders agree as to how the position will fit within the company's priorities. Revisit the job description and review how each credential, skill or personal quality fits into your company's operating priorities.

If the position fills a vacancy, you need to consider why the prior employee left the position. Did the prior employee have difficulty with the role, team or organization? If so, identify and take corrective measures before you select candidates to interview.

When you are sure about what you want, you are more likely to identify professionals who fit the bill.

Evaluate All Candidates Based On Similar Criteria
Before starting your interview process, determine which skills and priorities are most important for success. Next, create a list of assessment benchmarks for each. Then, evaluate all candidates based on your check-list. When all candidates are asked to meet similar criteria, you can trust your result when one emerges as the candidate of choice.

This approach is helpful when you are reviewing two equally qualified candidates. You can use your checklist and the priorities you have set to objectively determine which candidate is the better fit for the role you want to fill.

You will also find the written checklist helpful when you discuss and defend your final candidate selection to your department/organization's management. When having that discussion with your management, refer to the checklist document.

Ask Direct and Relevant Questions
Your job is to get to know each candidate as well as you can. Chances are the candidates will prepare well. They will have searched the web, read your literature and have a working familiarity with your operations. Use your questions to figure out which candidates are responding with stock answers and which are thinking critically about the challenges you face.

Successful candidates will reveal themselves because of their command of the issues, their constructive suggestions, their humor, and the ease with which they communicate. You will discern a level of honesty, clarity and hopefulness in their responses. You will want to ask more, talk more and engage them more fully in the process.

Less qualified candidates will avoid difficult questions, may refrain from frequent eye contact, and communicate their uneasiness both through their responses and their body-language. Such candidates may even jump into a salary or benefits discussion before you have had the opportunity to assess their abilities and credentials fully.

Filter Out Poor Candidates Quickly
If a candidate commits a significant interview mistake or discloses that s/he lacks key credentials for the job, have a way to politely and firmly terminate the interview. This will eliminate the annoying situation where you have come to judgment on a candidate and are forced to spend time on a full interview. 

Sell Your Organization
Candidates come to an interview to pitch their skills and their willingness to work with your organization. You should do the same when you meet well qualified candidates. Come up with a list of departmental and company attributes worth mentioning: organizational culture, profitability, performance within the industry, etc. You want the promising candidates to continue to consider working for your company after the interview.

Making a good hire depends, in part, on having a positive interview experience with your preferred candidates. The more you have thought about the interview and interview process, the better your chances are of making an outstanding hiring decision.

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...
David Schuchman