Talent Circles

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The unique power of evaluating job candidates as a group (Harvard Business School & Kennedy School Research)

By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

If you have never considered evaluating job candidates as a group (rather than one at a time), read this article published by the Harvard Business School: Better by the Bunch: Evaluating Job Candidates in Groups. The first paragraph says it all:  "New research suggests that organizations wishing to avoid gender stereotyping in the hiring or promotion process-and employ the most productive person instead—should evaluate job candidates as a group, rather than one at a time."

The article summarizes a report resulting from the collaboration between the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS): When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint versus Separate Evaluation. HKS Professor Iris Bohnet, doctoral student Alexandra van Geen, and HBS Professor Max H. Bazerman coauthored the document. The report is supported by a thorough scientific analysis whose parameters have been carefully thought-out.  

So now, how can you leverage this? By simply using TalentCircles. With TalentCircles, you can, of course, perform one-on-one interviews with candidates, record these interviews, take notes and send the link to hiring managers, who in turn will be able to give you immediate feedback. What you can also do just as easily is to perform group video evaluation. Here is how you proceed:

1) You send an invitation to members of your TalentCircles network, a subset of this network (that we call "circle"), or to people who have not yet joined your network. You can invite up to 20 candidates for a group video live (inviting more people could be impractical — so you may want to switch to our webinar mode).                  

2) Once the candidates are in the video booths, they can interact via video and also send text remarks. Meanwhile, the recruiter can write notes on what he/she sees.
Candidates in the video both

3) As the conversation unfolds, the recruiter can also check the participants' live profiles in the network and include work history, education, and any other information they have added.

Checking profile information

4) During the conversation, participants can discuss documents that have been communicated to the candidates, as well as documents that are presented in real-time to the participants for instant discovery and analysis.
Discussing a document with the candidates

5) The entire conversation can be recorded and sent to a hiring manager for evaluation.

Joint evaluation is a powerful tool: it encourages judgments based on people’s real-time performance and attitude — both how they answer questions and how they behave within a group. Incidentally, it's also a very cost-effective way to evaluate lots of people at once! Of course, after your group interview is done, you can choose to conduct thorough one-on-one video interviews!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It’s time for a bold new approach to talent networks

By Kevin W. Grossman

That’s the way it begins – change – the movement from one state to another, from a static status quo state to a hopefully more progressive and productive state. Like moving from flat two dimensions to a vibrant three.

The change begins in small groups, the sharing of new knowledge of what can be done that hasn’t been done before and the return of that “change” investment. The new knowledge fills the room, some of it permeating each exposed pore, entering the bloodstream and flooding our brains with possibility.

I recently spoke with a smart group of HR and recruiting practitioners at the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) Santa Cruz Region Meeting. My presentation was on social recruiting but with a focus on talent networks, the long tail of recruiting and quality over quantity – of change and what can be.

Most of the attendees were from smaller companies in the Santa Cruz area, but what was striking (and not surprising) was the fact that when I shared some recent research on social recruiting that claimed over 90 percent of employers would be engaged in it this year, everyone looked at me as if I just said we’d be riding magical unicorns in the big screen release of “Everybody’s Doing It” in 3-D.

Of course the reality is that while about half the room confirmed they use LinkedIn for professional networking, sourcing and recruiting, only three had Facebook company pages and no one, and I mean no one, used or even understood what Twitter was.

Well, there was one attendee who said he kinda used it. Kinda.

We then discussed the realities – that half the room prohibited most access to social networks during work hours. One HR practitioner even proudly said her company banned Facebook and Pandora during work hours.

Oh, man. Don’t kill my music. Mercy me.

But no one balked at my from-the-hip truths (one recruiter in the room nodded away and winked at me):
  • There are a gazillion people on social media today
  • Recruiters do source and recruit using social media
  • Candidates do use social to search for jobs
  • Companies are still mixed as to recruiting value

Companies are still mixed as to the recruiting value of social, which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about online talent networks this past year, writing about them, interviewing various HR and recruiting practitioners and vendors about them, speaking about them, dreaming about them (yes, really), and living and breathing inside one in particular – TalentCulture’s #TChat. (You should’ve seen the looks on the NCHRA attendee faces when I explained Twitter Chats.)

Much of social recruiting and talent network mainstream as it stands today relates to recruiting new employees for a company, but they can and should also form inside of companies with existing employees, and alumni, and their networks, both inside and out — a mass of hub-and-spokes circles within circles within circles that we only dream of maximizing return on.

Most everyone in the meeting agreed that the three-dimensional “unicorn” in the room is the fact that a talent network is only a network when those who belong collaborate, commiserate and connect with one another regularly for what can amount to infinite combination of reasons – but not necessarily applying for jobs outright. This of course can happen in existing social networks, other platforms and software systems that help create talent networks, and combination of all in between.

But the most common reality is that we usually end up with a two-dimensional network model, sourcing active candidates from a smattering of job postings and creating a database of people where occasional, hopefully relevant company and job information is shared with them. There’s just no true “network” inside.

Other kids may be running around and around the sandbox, but for those who are in it, for whatever time that is, it becomes an impromptu network where folks aggregate again and again. They’re not coming to the sandbox because you put it there. They’re coming because they want to play with the other kids and parents.

It’s time for a bold new approach to talent networks. It’s time for change.

What, you don’t know what a Twitter Chat is?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Internal mobility and talent clouds

By Kevin W. Grossman

Mercy, it’s been hot in the Heartland. Scorching hot. Lawns-catch-fire-as-you-drive-by hot. If you live here or you’ve been paying attention to the Midwest drought news, the devastated crops and the meteorological heat danger advisories, you know what I’m talking about. We’re here on family vacation in the Quad Cities where two cities in Illinois and two cities in Iowa bookend the banks of the great Mississippi River.

I know; why would we vacation on the surface of the sun, even if it were by a river? Because of family, of course. And there’s lots of fun to be had, even with the heat. But last night what was more disruptive than the heat has been was the wicked thunderstorm that woke us all up and kept us up for a bit. Much needed rain in exchange for a sleepless night I guess.

For those of us in business today, there have been many sleepless nights over the past five years, and even with record profits and increased productivity for many companies, the qualified talent drought has only just begun. If we want to make it rain inside and out these days, we’ve got to be able to control our talent weather. More precisely, we must be able to understand the molecular makeup of our talent clouds, and how rapidly the combining and recombining of the molecules change the innovative power of our people, as well as scorch the very earth we work on.

Wouldn’t we rather predict our weather than be carried away in the perfect storm? Of course we would. That means having to look outward for talent sunshine, which is usually more costly in regards to attracting, recruiting, hiring, on boarding and training. Necessary depending on who and what you’re hiring for, but more costly.

What we need today need is talent insight on:
  • What happened before
  • What’s happening now
  • What will happen if I move the warm front to the cold front and back again
I’m talking about understanding who we have now who can then help later when we need them then, over here, and over there, and over there. This can include selecting from full-time, part-time, temps, contractors as well as your own customers, partners and competitors.

Internal mobility has been mixed blessing for many organizations because although many would prefer to hire and promote from within, if they don’t have the right insight on their employees and teams, then it becomes difficult making those decisions, especially in such an interconnected global economy, with hot job markets only in specific sectors like IT.

Of course we can open up our position searches to internal folks and compare and contrast them and then hire/promote the most qualified, but that linear thinking doesn’t help when it comes to understand how our internal folks work individually, together, what their value is combined and recombined, and how they impact our business.

In the smaller organizations I’ve worked in, it’s easier to orchestrate our talent clouds. But in larger ones it can become the cliché of the resume database that stagnates like pooled rainwater that then breeds only mosquitos, not mobility. Talent network platforms that can send out virtual weather balloons and forecast where you are and where you’re going – combined with progressive talent acquisition processes, people and systems – can give organizations the tools and resources to better orchestrate their talent weather, although we all know how glacial change management can be. And you can’t always have just-in-time sunshine if you don’t control the talent clouds.

All right – enough with the weather metaphors. Internal mobility done right with talent network insight can help give you the competitive advantage in today’s global marketplace.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Business Talent Networks: The Coming-of-New-Economic-Age Story

In the quirky yet poignant coming-of-age movie Moonrise Kingdom, every single frame of film is like a lovely picture-box where the forced perspective of people and imagery is slanted outward toward the viewing audience, inviting you into every second of every scene. It’s fascinating really. Thousands of film frames, these celluloid picture-boxes, collaborating one after the other to deliver a unified story for all to experience and hopefully enjoy.

But today our intertwined personal and professional lives are fast-forward fragments of these forced perspective stills. We live in snapshots of jobless recoveries and economic downturns and employee dissatisfaction and too many unqualified applicants and business uncertainties and one size fits all no matter how much some blather on incessantly about adaptability and globalization...

These pictures aren’t quirky or poignant or pretty. They’re literal clichés from today’s world of work that doesn’t show much for tomorrow other than flat two-dimensional black and white stills. However, consider this from a recent BusinessWeek article:

From March 2011 to March 2012, [John Deere] customers ordered more than 7,800 different configurations of the 8R. On average, each configuration was built only 1.5 times. More than half the 8Rs were built just once, for a single customer. Thus, the global tractor: One size does not fit all, from Kansas to Kazakhstan.

Yes, John Deere. The riding mower and tractor company somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. The $32 billion dollar global riding mower and tractor company somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, that nowhere being somewhere my wife and her much of family are from. The Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa right smack dab on the banks of great Mississippi River, America’s heartland, where we’re going soon for a family vacation. Moline, Illinois, to be exactly where John Deere is headquartered. (The picture is my oldest daughter wearing a pink John Deere hat a few years ago.)

Again, that’s 7,800 different configurations on big hardware where each configuration was built only 1.5 times. A true America icon still shining brightly after 175 years, adaptable and global and growing and hiring. This is not the hip and fresh gig from Silicon Valley and the Bay Area and the startup capital of the world, San Francisco. But it’s just as important to the U.S. economy as well as the entire world.

If a large historic business institution can create lovely picture-boxes of innovation and growth, then so can other companies. We don’t have to be stuck with fragmented and bland world-of-work imagery. We can actually create business talent networks of executive management, employees, alumni and applicants who can come together and collaborate, sharing a dizzying array of configurations that give forced perspective a whole new, well, perspective. These vibrant images becoming one fascinating coming-of-new-economic-age story for all to experience, enjoy and thrive in, from the Heartland to hereafter.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A sweet career development meal for our military veterans

By Kevin W. Grossman

One in three. Mercy me.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one in three young military veterans were out of a job the last quarter of 2011. That rate was double that of their civilian peers.

Double, mind you. So much for economic independence day (that continues to still evade America and most of the world). Whoopee. Have some stale shortcake with those moldy strawberries.

And according to a recent New York Times article, “The unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has remained above the civilian rate for several years, standing at 12.7 percent in May, compared with 7.7 percent among nonveterans. The problem is particularly great among younger veterans ages 18 to 24, whose unemployment rate was 23.5 percent in May, 10 percentage points higher than their nonveteran peers.” That’s not accounting for those who have partial employment or those who have given up all together.

The disparity, as I’ve read over and over again of late, is blamed on the fact that matching military skills and experience to civilian jobs has been confounding to employers, of which I find confounding. With the exception of direct combat experience, all the skills learned in the military are critical for the private sector today — from technical skills to leadership skills to being an adaptable and disciplined a team player.

But why is it that so many employers are missing out on these highly trained individuals? It’s not that there aren’t enough skills assessments on the market: SHL alone claims to have over 1,000 titles and competitive prices. Plus, there are myriad of other assessment companies to choose from, allowing employers of any size to size up their applicants, albeit from the military or not. Not to mention the even minimally trained sourcers and screeners who should be able to match and translate experience to business needs. Literally matching keywords from resume to job posting does not a meal make.

We’ve got “bleeding edge” recruiting technologies to help us sort through the candidates, which for some companies could mean hundreds of online applications each week. However, as I’ve written before it can all be like an Escher maze, the social networking pages to job boards to career sites to applicant tracking systems that are as endless as the miles and miles of back road we travel everyday, where we are in fact loosing qualified passengers along the way, not to mention the gastronomical unmentionables we find along the way.

We keep measuring the cost of a bad hire – thousands and thousands of dollars per bad hire depending on the level and position. But we’re not spending enough time evangelizing the return of making a good, tasty hire. These good hires are the employees who make our businesses thrive and grow; they know who else around them, above them and below them are making things thrive and grow, like fresh yeast activating flour, salt, water and eggs. They know who has had previous military experience and who doesn’t.

Why aren’t we facilitating a “platform” mixing bowl in which these thrivers and growers can show us directly how and why their recipe works? We don’t want to stop our top team members and leaders in their tracks, but we do want to watch in real time their interactions with one another. And if you’ve got anyone with previous military experience, find out why were they hired in the first place, and if they’re performing, add another why on top of that. If you haven’t hired anyone from the military, figure out that why as well.

It’s up to the people acquisition and management folk – recruiters, human resources, hiring managers, project managers, executive management – to identify, analyze and extrapolate what skills their best talent has and then examine their origins to create better talent mapping techniques. An internal talent network recipe makes for the right dish that sticks to your ribs. You can source, screen, assess, interview, identify, map, sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper –

Nothing says Independence Day like a sweet career development meal for our military veterans. Invite them over to your house soon, and don’t forget the fresh whipped cream.