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Finding and Keeping the “Keepers” – Recruiting Front Line Employees

The latest chapter of the book we’re writing on achieving your optimal front line  retention strategy is written by our board member, Mel Kleiman.  The focus of this chapter is the key role that recruiting practices play in ensuring that the right talent is available, willing and able to serve on your organization’s front line.

For some organizations, the challenge may be finding an adequate supply of necessary talent.  For others, the candidate supply may be steady, but choosing those who are the right fit for the job may often seem hit or miss.  In either case, the organization will suffer if these root causes can’t be addressed.  Mel’s article addresses the supply question as well as the issue of assessing a candidate’s suitability for the position in question, discussing the differences between candidate populations and how organizations can tailor their recruiting messages and approaches to different target candidate audiences.

I thought about this when I was shopping for a Mac Book for my son this week.  We went to the hyper-glossy Apple store on Boylston Street in Boston.  The floor staff have specialized roles, and gracefully handed us off amongst themselves as we sorted through the hardware and software requirements dictated by the NYU film department.  Our principal guide was Chris – who himself had a deep knowledge of film editing on a Mac.  We couldn’t have had a better shopping experience.

When I was leading a recruitment outsourcing practice in a past life, we used to talk about three dimensions of fit: skills, willingness to do the job, and cultural fit.  Mel takes a similar approach in this chapter, exploring the assessment of existing candidate capabilities as well as an individual’s willingness to do the job in the way the organization wants it done.  I don’t know what Apple’s approach is to recruiting and training their front line retail staff, but the results are impressive if Chris is a typical example.

You can read Mel’s chapter here.  You can also hear a podcast of an interview between Mel and me regarding his approach to hourly worker recruiting.

A**holes and Absenteeism

The following is a guest post by our board member, Dr. Steven Hunt.   He recently had the opportunity to interview Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of the popular book “The No A**hole Rule” (Business Plus press, 2007).   The title Bob chose for his book is provocative, but the topic is serious.  Bullying behavior by bosses at work can degrade employee productivity faster than just about any other poor management practice.  With Steve’s permission, I’ve taken the liberty of masking the potentially offensive “a**hole” term for readers.  Here is Steve’s otherwise unaltered guest post:

One thing that really impressed me about Bob’s work is that, despite the somewhat irreverent title of his book, the book is based on a lot of in-depth, rigorous empirical research.   A tremendous amount of time has been spent studying the notion of a**holes and how they impact business performance.  Most of this research doesn’t actually use the term “a**hole”, opting instead for more socially appropriate terms like “bully”, “jerks”, or “emotionally insensitive”.  But the focus is the same:  what is the impact of having individuals in a company who treat others in a way that makes them feel demeaned, emotionally hurt, or otherwise hurts their sense of self-esteem?   What is clear from this research is that a**holes have serious, lasting and damaging consequences to a company’s bottom line. 

 One item of research discussed in the “No A**hole Rule” struck me as being of particular interest to many of the readers of the Workforce Institute website.  Hourly employees are much more likely to skip work if they feel their supervisor is an a**hole  This by itself is probably not that surprising.  But what is more interesting is that hourly employees who dislike their boss will not necessarily miss more work on a regular basis.  Instead they will choose not to come in to work on those days when they have some reasonable excuse (for example, during a snowstorm).  Of course, it is during these times when companies are likely to most want employees to make the extra effort to show up. 

 In sum, when a supervisor acts like an a**hole to his/her direct reports the way direct reports get back at this person is through not helping them out when they are most needed.  This just another reason why companies should be serious about weeding out supervisors who treat employees in a cruel or demeaning manner. 

 It would be nice to live in a world where we don’t need research to justify to companies why they should not hire or retain a**holes.   But sadly, as Bob also points out in his book, a great many companies tolerate a**holes rather than recognizing them for the damaging influence that they are. 

 This is just one of many very interesting facts and insights I gained from interviewing Bob and reading his book “The No A**hole Rule”.  If you’d like to hear my full interview with Bob Sutton, you can check  it out at the following site: