hiringOne of the most important tasks any business leader has is hiring. It’s a time-consuming process that has far-reaching effects. A bad hire can negatively impact both your budget and your reputation. Do it well, and you’ll be a hero.

The right person has the right skills and experience, but that’s not all. In addition to being technically capable, the right person is also a good fit for the company.

We’ve all heard hiring horror stories—maybe you even have one or two of your own. Companies that are successful in hiring have a process that includes attracting high-quality candidates, evaluating them in several different areas, and taking the time to get to know the people. Here are five tips to improve your hiring process.

Tip 1

Better job descriptions. It starts with an extensive job analysis. Use the information to create both job specifications, which include the required technical capabilities, and candidate specifications, which identify traits a candidate needs to be successful in the role.

Avoid job posts that are just laundry lists of every possible skill and trait a “perfect” candidate should have. Studies have shown that high-potential candidates respond more often to job postings that focus on what the company can do for its employees. Statements like, “We provide constructive feedback to support career growth,” and “You’ll frequently have the opportunity to collaborate with talented colleagues,” will attract great candidates.

Tip 2Hiring

Embrace technology. Most people want to work for companies that keep up with tech trends. A good start is making sure your career site is
mobile-friendly. According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, nearly 30 percent of American adults have used their smartphone in some way for their job search, including browsing job listings (94 percent of smartphone job seekers), filling out online job applications (50 percent) and creating a resume or cover letter (23 percent).

Tip 3

Pay attention to soft skills. It might seem that the right skill set is the most important factor in whether a candidate is the best fit for a role. The truth is that skills can be learned, but personal traits cannot. Interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence matter—and may be even more important than skills in job success. Some of the most profitable companies hire attitude and teach skills.

Tip 4

Improve your interviews. Most hiring managers are not trained in good interviewing techniques. They are often too pressed for time, too focused on other issues, and too insecure in their interviewing skills to notice red flags candidates exhibit in the interview process. They often default to evaluating technical competence and ignore factors like coachability, emotional intelligence, temperament and motivation that are equally important. To counteract this, train interviewers in good questioning techniques. Most interviewers don’t go through the interviewing process often enough to feel comfortable with it. Providing short interview skill refresher courses and quick reference job aids can help interviewers feel more confident.

An often-overlooked aspect of interviewing candidates is letting the candidates interview you, too. Their questions will give you an idea of what’s important to them. It also helps the candidate decide whether the job is a good fit for them. You don’t want to waste time pursuing someone who ultimately decides the role isn’t what they want. Be open and honest about what it’s like to work at your company. Otherwise, you could end up with a disgruntled employee who’s a poor fit.

Tip 5

Watch your company reviews. Today’s top potential employees research companies they want to work for. That includes checking out sites like LinkedIn and review sites like Glassdoor. According to Glassdoor, 46 percent of its members read reviews before talking to recruiters or hiring managers. Top candidates may not even apply if they don’t like what they see.

So what encourages these candidates to apply? They favor companies who manage their brand by responding to reviews, updating the company’s profile, and sharing updates on the company’s culture and work environment.

By keeping an eye on reviews, you can track whether your company has a lot of negative reviews from former employees. One or two bad reviews probably aren’t cause for concern. However, if there’s a trend of multiple poor reviews, it might be time to work on your company’s culture before trying to fill open positions. This can lead to better employee retention and better reviews, attracting better quality candidates.

Ready to improve your hiring skills? Contact me at laurie@theperformancedifference.com to learn how to write better job descriptions and improve your interviewing skills.

Hiring EmployeesAt some point, most employers have to hire a new employee. Positions become vacant for many reasons. People retire, move away, get promoted—life happens. If you’re losing employees at an alarming rate, you’ll want to investigate the root causes before doing more hiring. But even the most run-of-the-mill, no-fault need to hire new people can make hiring managers anxious (see 5 Ways To Avoid Hiring Disasters).

We know that the best employees not only have the skills you need or the ability to learn them, they’re also a good fit for your business. So how do you find that seemingly magical creature in a sea of applications?

Tip 1

Create a profile. It’s difficult to hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know what makes an employee successful in your company, how can
you hire someone who will fit the bill?

Survey your current high-performing employees about their interests, hobbies, experiences, and accomplishments. [Bonus tip: Tell employees that by sharing this information, they can help create a productive workplace. Maybe you can offer a small incentive for everyone who completes the survey.] Develop a list of the following characteristics:

  • Traits
  • Attitudes
  • Life experiences

The idea isn’t to use this information to create a cookie-cutter employee profile that allows no room for differences. In fact, it can show where differences will strengthen your team. Instead, use this information to recognize the characteristics common to your most successful employees.

Tip 2

Enlist the help of current employees. Let employees know that you want them to always be on the lookout for good people who mighthiring employees
add value to your organization. Your employees probably know other people working in the same field and will most likely only recommend
friends or acquaintances who will be solid performers. In addition, your current staff will likely give potential candidates an honest assessment of what it is like working there. That helps weed out the people who might not be a good fit before you put the time and effort into the interviewing process. You might even consider offering a referral bonus—cash or other gift meaningful to the referring employee. To make sure you’re getting quality referrals and not just numbers, offer the bonus in increments – some at the time of hire, some after the new employee has been there six months, and the rest after the new employee reaches one year.

Tip 3

Encourage employee development. Employees want a job that has purpose and provides growth opportunities. A chance to develop professionally is a great selling point to get the right new hires excited about your job. Show them that you believe in their potential and want to help them succeed from the very beginning with a development plan included in your onboarding process. Provide mentoring, coaching, and chances to learn new skills. A great way to accomplish this is by having regular meetings with employees to set and monitor development goals (see “Coaching vs. Annual Reviews”).

These three tips should help you feel more confident in attracting your ideal employee. If you’d like more information about making sure your new hires are winners, contact me at laurie@theperformancedifference.com.

Managing PeopleBack in the 1990s, Warren Bennis authored a book about managing people in the 21st century titled Managing People is Like Herding Cats. It’s a great title because of the image it invokes—people running around like cats, refusing to be herded. Every manager has most likely felt that their team behaved this way at some point.

When you’re newly promoted to management, you probably feel excited about your new role, ready to jump in and get things done, and—let’s be honest—happy to daydream about how you’ll spend that extra income. And while we’re being honest, you likely feel a little apprehensive, if not downright terrified. Even if you’re confident and ready to take on the challenge of managing other people, these questions may occur to you:

  • Can I make hard decisions about goals and priorities?
  • Can I say “no” to projects that don’t advance these goals?
  • Can I represent the company even if you disagree with a decision?
  • Can I effectively exercise authority over others, especially people older or more experienced than me?

As scary as it may be, there are steps you can take to get more comfortable with your new role managing people. Here’s a list of suggestions to help you hit the ground running and do your best from the very beginning.

1. Learn Everything You Can

Look for all the management tools, resources, and classes your company offers. Some companies have extensive training materials. Nearly all have manuals and HR policies. Read and learn from them. Keep a copy on your computer or bookshelf.

Also, take the time to learn about the people you’ll be managing. Review their personnel files, resumes, and past performance reviews. Then make the time to get to know them through face-to-face interaction.

2. Change Your Perspective

“Before you were a manager, your number one job was to accomplish tasks,” says Penelope Trunk in 4 Worst Mistakes of a First Time Manager. “Now, your number one job is to help other people accomplish the tasks in an outstanding way.”

As a manager, your performance is tied to your team’s performance. If they fail, you fail. Your job is to help them succeed by providing motivation and removing obstacles.

3. Listen First, Act Second

Often, new managers are eager to big changes right away to show that they’re competent and in charge. However, this can backfire if you don’t take the time to completely understand your organization and team.

Set up individual get-acquainted meetings with your new staff members. Ask what they like about their jobs, what their biggest challenges are, and what ideas they have for improving the organization. You won’t be able to use everyone’s ideas and make everybody happy. However, saying something as simple as, “I’d like your input while I consider plans for the future,” will go a long way toward building positive relationships.

4. Manage Relationship Changes

You got a promotion and now you’re supervising someone who used to be your work BFF. No more one-on-one happy hours and lunches that would cause distrust and resentment from the rest of the team. Remember that your former peer may be happy for you but also feel jealous or left behind.

As awkward as it may be, the best course of action is to address the changes in your relationship head-on. Try starting the conversation with, “You know that I value our friendship, but as a manager, I need to make sure that everyone on the team views me as being fair and consistent, so our work relationship is going to change,” suggests Adrian Granzella Larssen, editor-in-chief of The Daily Muse.

5. Make Your Boss Look Good

Now that you’re reporting for a group, it’s important to make sure the goals you set for your team align with your supervisor’s priorities. Set up regular meetings to discuss your team’s goals, progress, and issues.

Consistent communication also helps establish a positive relationship with your boss. You’ll need to learn how to handle sticky employee challenges that aren’t covered by a manual. What if you have someone who is a great performer, but you can’t promote him because there isn’t a position available? A coach or mentor can help you figure out a way to reward and keep the employee. If your boss can’t or won’t fill this role, find someone else in the company who will.

Being a good manager is an ongoing process. Even after the initial learning curve, you’ll continue to find new challenges along the way. Do your homework, focus on your new role, and form good relationships, and you’ll be a successful manager.

Want to know more about the skills required to be a good manager? Email me at laurie@theperformancedifference.com to discuss how you can find out about the traits you need to succeed.

entrepreneurship traitsEntrepreneurship is on the rise. A report from the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity shows that 550,000 Americans launch new businesses each month. More people are starting new businesses for both cultural and economic reasons.

Although it may sound ideal, we know that not everyone who thinks they should strike out on their own is actually cut out to do it. How often have you daydreamed about being your own boss? I think it’s fair to say that most of us have imagined it at some point. But with 33% of new businesses failing in the first five years, how do you know if you’re entrepreneur material? Fortunately, advanced assessments can provide insights into the required traits for success. Harrison Assessments has studied success for 25 years, identifying the traits needed to succeed as well as factors that could be stumbling blocks.


Here’s a list of the essential traits entrepreneurs need.


Harrison Assessments (HA) defines authoritative as the desire for decision-making authority and the willingness to accept decision-making responsibility. This is so crucial that HA ranks it as “very essential, 80% of the time.”

Takes Initiative

This means the ability to understand what must be accomplished and to proceed to do it on your own. You never have to be told what needs to be done.

Wants Autonomy

This one is defined as, “the desire to have freedom or independence from authority.” In other words, to be your own boss.

Wants Challenge

If you’re not willing to tackle difficult tasks or goals, entrepreneurship is definitely not for you.


If you’re not excited about your goals and eager to tackle the steps to achieve them, you’ll burn out before you succeed. You have to be able to be your own cheerleader when things get tough.


It’s essential that you can try to persuade others in several areas, such as sharing your vision and getting excited about it. You’ll want to build a system of people who support and care about your success. Otherwise, it’s doubtful you’ll make it in the long haul.


You have to be able to envision the steps to accomplishing an objective, and formulate a plan for achieving success. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail!


This trait involves the tendency to logically examine facts and situations. If you don’t have the ability, you have to find someone who does. Analysis is essential to strategic planning.

Analyzes Pitfalls

This means you can imagine and examine potential difficulties in a plan or strategy. If you’re the person who always sees the potential downside of a proposed action, you’ve got this one covered.


Your stick-to-it ability will be tested to the breaking point as an entrepreneur. If you can’t commit to overcoming significant obstacles, maybe this isn’t the best fit for you.

Do these traits sound familiar? If they describe you, you may have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Next week, we’ll talk about the six tendencies that indicate entrepreneurship is not for you.

To find out more about traits that can make or break entrepreneurs, visit www.theperformancedifference.com, or email me at laurie@theperformancedifference.com to discuss how you can find out about the traits you need to succeed.




entrepreneurSounds perfect, right? Not so fast. Like many things in life, just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD. Last week we talked about the essential traits entrepreneurs need. This week we’ll look at four things that indicate entrepreneurship isn’t for you.

Not a risk-taker. As you might guess, being willing to take risks is essential to successful entrepreneurship. What you might not know is that you have to balance it with a healthy respect for the potential drawbacks, problems and obstacles. Stories you hear often focuses on the “full speed ahead” entrepreneurial mindset, but you have to be able and willing to do the less-exciting due diligence to increase the odds for success. It’s a fine line to walk. Being too impulsive, not doing thorough prep work, risks your chances of success. On the other hand, concentrating too much on potential problems can consume too much time, causing you to miss opportunities. And, as you know, if you are completely risk-averse, entrepreneurship is not for you.

Can’t balance creativity AND perseverance. You may have a great idea—or several—but if you lose focus and get bored, you won’t be successful. Many creative people fall into this category. They have one idea right after another, but fail to stick it out and bring them to completion. You need to balance creative ideas with sticking to seeing them through to be a successful entrepreneur.

teamDoesn’t play well with others. The images of creative geniuses we see in the media often appear to be driven, hyper-focused, and completely self-motivated. If they have team support, everyone seems to forgive them their lack of basic people skills. I always think of Sheldon on the popular sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. He might be fun to watch, but I suspect Sheldon in the real world would be a very lonely person. In reality, entrepreneurs need to be able to effectively interact with others, build motivated and high-performing teams, negotiate win-win solutions to conflict, and inspire others to achieve goals. Entrepreneurs need both strong, focused ambition and team-building people skills to be successful.

Blind to success-hindering tendencies. Often, people don’t realize that they have traits that could hamper success. Some of them include defensiveness, bluntness, impulsiveness, authoritarianism, and close-mindedness. Research has shown these traits to prevent success if they are extreme. Using an assessment tool can give an objective view of any tendencies that hopeful entrepreneurs might need to work on.

While these indicators can give you an idea of whether you’re entrepreneur material, nothing is a deal breaker if you’re willing to work on areas where you may fall short. Remember that we are all capable of change, if the pay-off is great enough. Change starts with knowing what we need to work on, deciding if we want to do it, and getting started with a plan to make the changes.

To find out more about traits that can make or break entrepreneurs, email me at laurie@theperformancedifference.com to discuss how you can find out about the traits you need to succeed.