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Are You Winning the Talent Wars?

How many times have you heard or read, "Our employees are our greatest asset"?

What are the chances of any company surviving if it cannot find the right employees - or find enough of them? In 2003 Roger Herman, Tom Olivio, and Joyce Gioia wrote in Impending Crisis that by the year 2010 the U.S. economy will support 10 million more jobs than there will be people in the work force to fill them.

This future scenario could make the late 1990's volatile job market look like it was relatively stable compared to what we may soon experience.

Is your company currently at risk of finding enough good people? Can you predict whether or not your top employees are planning to leave? In this era of information on demand, drastically changing work environments and workforces, and employees that bring a tremendous network of resources with them to work every single day (and also take those same resources home with them at night), wouldn't it be good to know how you are really doing in the war for talent?

Peter Drucker states that, "66% of your new hires will turn out to be mistakes within the first 12 months", yet most companies continue business as usual as it pertains to employee selection, development and retention. Most companies are constantly looking to hire more productive employees, but most don't know the best place to start, as evidenced below:

• Most companies do not use any type of assessment tool prior to making an offer

• Of the companies that use assessment instruments, most use tools that focus only on personality traits

• Many of the personality style tools were not created for business use - they were intended to help identify deviant behaviors

• Many of the most commonly used personality assessments have reliability scores that are below the recommended minimums set by The Association of Testing Professionals and some are not intended for use as predictive tools

• Research on over 85 years of assessment history indicates that general mental ability (i.e., how a person processes information) has the highest validity in predicting future job success of any single characteristic measured

The Best Selling Authors Say the Same Things

Several best-selling authors over the recent years have boldly suggested where companies and individuals should be moving in terms of helping people find their right niche in the world. It doesn't matter whether you are coming from the individual's or the company's perspective, the results and conclusions are all the same.

All of the authors listed below agree that the best way to maximize productivity is to match people's gifts, abilities and interests to the jobs you ask them to do. An employee who is a good match for his/her role will be more productive, make more money for themselves and the company, and stay longer than one who is not a good match for their role. This sounds simple -- like good old common sense, but we all know common sense is not all that common.

In 1999 Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman wrote First, Break All the Rules. The book was based on data collected by the Gallup Organization from over one million employees and 80,000 managers. Some of the conclusions drawn from this research included:

• Great managers do NOT believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to

• Human behavior can be divided into three distinct categories: skills (capabilities that can be transferred, or taught, from one person to another), knowledge (things a person is aware of, and can also be taught), and talents (recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior). This last category - talents - are either gifts bestowed at birth or developed before we reach adulthood, and can rarely be significantly changed after a person matures

• To best understand the talents that are most important in those occupying specific roles in your company, you should start by looking at the current top performers in those roles

Jim Collins wrote Good to Great in 2001, explaining through another extensive research project why some companies turned out to be truly great, while other companies who faced similar circumstances did not. One of his startling conclusions was that, "The old adage 'People are your most important asset' turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are." His chapter 3, First Who, Then What, made many leaders stop and think about how they build their teams around themselves.

In 2002 Lou Adler released a revised version of his 1998 book Hire With Your Head. In it, Adler reviews a plethora of hiring practices and why some methods work better than others in building great companies. In his chapter about what to do after the first interview, Alder recommends using tools that have the ability to measure not only personality, but also cognitive skills and interests, and concurred with Buckingham and Coffman in saying that these tools should also be able to benchmark your company's top performers in a specific job function.

Also in 2002, Rick Warren wrote a best-seller called The Purpose Driven Life, in which he describes why people are better at some things compared to others. Warren was not attempting to explain success from a business perspective like the other authors listed above, and he used slightly different terminology. But there are many obvious similarities in Warren's SHAPE framework for what people should understand in choosing their vocations compared to frameworks suggested by the other authors.

S = Spiritual Gifts, abilities for serving God given only to believers

H = Heart, your desires, hopes, interests, dreams and affections

A = Abilities, natural talents you were born with

P = Personality, behavioral characteristics that make us all unique

E = Experience, or what we have been exposed to

Companies look at this information and usually think one of three things:

• We're doing O.K., we don't need to change our selection or retention practices

• We probably could do better in these areas, but it would cost too much

• We don't have the time to add this to our current processes

PeopleRight was founded in 2002 to help companies make more intelligent decisions in selecting, developing and retaining great employees. We show companies how they can take advantage of the latest research and technology in the assessment industry without breaking the bank or extending the selection process.

Our services normally cost less than the cost of one bad hire, and we are happy to measure our results to continue to earn your business. Over 95% of our clients have asked us back to do additional work after our first project.

About the author:

Mike McCormack is the President and Owner of PEOPLERIGHT. He is an expert at evaluating and categorizing human performance potential, especially as it pertains to the assessment and hiring of employees. With over twenty years professional experience dealing with personnel issues, Mike helps companies pinpoint the essential characteristics of their top performers, and then measure those characteristics in new applicants.

He says, "The success or failure of a company boils down to whether or not they have the right people in the right place at the right time." The author of multiple articles, Mike had been published in the Mays Business School CNVE newsletter, spoken to associations and business conferences, and been a guest lecturer at Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas. He has a B.S. in Engineering and a M.B.A. from Texas A&M University.

To learn more about how to improve your company's people equation call Mike at (214) 357-2505 or visit the PeopleRight web site at

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