Ashby, a leadership expert, and Dell, a human resources guru, offer several ways to help organizations create such an environment and attract the A-players they want and need.
All companies have a culture -- a corporate way of life. The authors have found that companies that are dominating, autocratic and inflexible have the highest turnover rates regardless of pay. Corporate cultures built on participation, cooperation and communication keep good people.
How Well Do You Use Your Talent?
They have also found that organizations that focus on the use of the best talents of their employees have a much lower turnover rate than those whose emphasis is primarily on productivity. Success requires more than the full commitment of top management. The authors tell companies they must create a climate that stimulates people to challenge current practices and to develop and implement new ideas.
The organizational culture, as perceived by the employees, dictates how they think about their jobs, perform their functions and plan for the future. If workers are convinced the company is truly concerned about quality, the authors write that employees will make every effort to produce quality work. But if workers think the company's talk about quality is just lip service, the "quality" program will be ignored.
Before a company hires a new employee, the authors write that it must make sure it determines the characteristics the perfect A-player would have. First, analyze the job to create a job description that describes what the job really is, and a job specification that describes what characteristics the person holding the job needs to successfully perform the job.
In the interview, the authors write that managers should use open-ended questions as much as they can. These lend themselves to more than yes or no answers and yield more valuable information. Another important part of the interview is selling the organization. Present the company and the job in a positive and enthusiastic manner, but don't exaggerate or mislead. That will only add to turnover. The authors advise managers to answer questions honestly, but be cautious about candidates who only ask about benefits and perks, and not much about the job itself.
Usually, a manager has several good candidates from whom to pick. Comparing them must be done systematically. The authors explain that managers should compare the top candidates side by side using a final selection spreadsheet.
Making the Offer
Once the selection has been made, it is time to make the offer. A good candidate might object to the terms of the offer. The authors write that managers must be ready to face the objections and overcome them. Sometimes that may mean offering more money or additional benefits, but it may also mean moving on to another candidate.
One way the authors write that companies can attract and retain A-players is to have an active program of internal transfers and promotions. Filing vacancies from within has many advantages -- companies will know far more about current employees than they will ever know about an outside hire. Plus, offering opportunities internally boosts morale and serves as a performance incentive.
The First Day of Work
At last, a new employee reports to work. Recent studies have shown that 55 percent of new hires fail or voluntarily leave their jobs within two years due to a failure to properly introduce and assimilate them into the new culture. The first ten days are often critical to success or failure. Orientation is a start, but the authors write that it is not enough. They write that a new approach called "onboarding" is needed. Onboarding is a comprehensive plan to shepherd the new employees through the first several months. The authors outline the proper way to do this.
Training has become an essential part of management. Many companies offer orientation, leadership development, and sexual harassment training, to name a few. The authors write that properly developed training programs can have a dramatic effect on business, represent a great return on investment, and are a major factor in retention of A-players.
Leadership is a key factor in retention. The authors write that managers should not assume that they know everything there is to know about leadership. They warn them that sticking to the old ways of leading may be encouraging workers to leave. Managers cannot count on controlling through power anymore. Today, the authors write, a leader leads by persuasion and motivation.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Ashby and Pell have written a clear and easy-to-use guide for managers who are looking for better ways to fill their companies with the right people. Embracing Excellence offers a comprehensive look at the most important talent issues managers and leaders face, and provides expert instruction on pulling the right elements together to develop a successful recruiting and retention plan. By focusing on a company's cultural climate and outlining a blueprint for implementing effective change, the authors give organizations the tools they need to become better prepared for the future. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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