Recruit, Inspire & Retain

October 2003

Ideas for "Marketing" and Providing "Customer Service" to Current and Potential Employees

Great Training for Great Employees
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Why Test for Skills?

If you took $8,000 of the company's money to a casino and let it all ride on one wager, how do you think that would fly?

How about if you did it weekly? Better yet, how about if you did it without even asking for permission?

Let's consider a very typical hiring scenario: Your organization is leaner and meaner than it has ever been, and every single decision made is tied closely to profitability. It seems like there are more candidates applying for positions than ever before, and you find yourself under a sea of resumes filled with diverse skills and experiences. The staff available to wade through this see is smaller, and it seems like everyone's time is at a premium. And, of course, you need the position filled yesterday!

Hence, the $8,000 bet. Some experts quote that as the cost of hiring, training and then losing a candidate. Of course, it will vary from organization to organization, and position to position, but we place the $8,000 bet every single time we hire.

Hedging the Bet with Right Decision & Time Efficient Technology.
Consider a case in which an employer is hiring for a "Sales Assistant" position. The skills required by the employer involve typing speed and proficiency in two common office software applications. The human resource professional is making the hiring decision with the  sales manager, and they receive over 100 resumes on the very first day it is advertised.

Now you have a huge candidate pool, a hiring team that’s already busy, and a critical revenue-generating position that’s vacant. Sound familiar? Technology to the rescue!!

Start with a pre-employment assessment:

bullet First, you can access a wide variety of skills assessments via the web. Common areas of interest are clerical, software, technical, call center, customer service, financial and many more.
bullet Next, you can issue password protected session ID's to candidates via their email. A candidate receives the session ID, along with an email that explains the entire process. Then, the candidate takes the tests from any available computer with Internet connection, at any time.
bullet Finally, scores are e-mailed to the test administrator immediately upon the candidate's completion, accompanied by a comprehensive report that includes proficiency by skill type, task type, question level and the time it took to answer each question.

No More Bets
End result? Each applicant with the relevant job experience is e-mailed a session ID and a battery of skills assessments. Within 24 hours, you’re supplied with statistical data from 15 candidates who exhibited proficiency in the skills deemed critical for job success. Now you can schedule one full day of face-to-face interviews with pre-qualified candidates with the job experience and skills that you’re looking for. You find your new "sales assistant" that day! The human resource professional moves on to the next hiring decision, the sales manager goes back to selling, and they can both feel confident that they have made the most informed hiring decision they could, in the most efficient manner possible.

Skills assessments are basic hiring tools that are simple to administer, cost-effective and a reliable way to determine whether or not a candidate truly possesses the skills represented on their resume.

So, with these and other great hiring tools available today……why leave anything to chance?

Adapted from April, 2003 Recruiter Magazine article by John Valenti

Get more tips on recruiting great employees from TRAINING SYSTEMS.

Personnel Testing, by John W. Jones
Interviewing Skills for Managers, by TRAINING SYSTEMS' own Carolyn B. Thompson
  (10% off by typing “RIR” in Special  Instructions at above links) Or e-mail

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Recruitment, inspiration, training, and retention ideasHave a recruitment, inspiration, training, or retention idea or question? Ask by clicking the question mark, and we’ll post your idea or question (and the answer) in Answers & Ideas on Recruiting, Inspiring, Training, & Retaining Great Employees at

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Congregation members of Dayspring Chapel
Oracle Application Users Group Conference purchasers.

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The Human Brain Sees the Big Picture

Accodrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig huh?

PowerPoint screen show that features 40 humorous posters that are pre-set to work on “auto-pilot”. Makes a great “WELCOME” message or enhancement to your session break. Runs about 5 minutes, and is set to automatically recycle. You can add in your own slides. (a great place to slip in your objectives!) Get your PowerPoint screen show here!
BUY PACKS of inspirational posters. (Do a Product Search for POSTERS, then look for Training Room Posters (30/pack).)

Tools: Recruit Inspire Train Retain

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* From Roger Burdette, BW DOT, who participated in presentation and facilitation skills sessions at the NIGP Conference:
  “Carolyn, I can’t thank you enough for what I learned in the three classes I took at Forum in Nashville. As I told you, I was to have the privilege of marrying my son and his fiancée, on Saturday after the Forum. Well Friday evening I didn’t know if I would make it through the rehearsal let alone the ceremony on Saturday.

So, I thought back to what you said about picturing a glass wall all around you and everything inside of this area being my territory (my turf) and anyone entering this area was on my turf. So on Friday evening after setting all of the chairs out and marking the place for the arch trellis; I walked down the aisle a couple of times and turned and built my transparent house. To say the lease, I lost it a couple of times during the practice.

 So on Saturday; I did the same thing and I know some people thought I was crazy. The ceremony went really great; even if I did have to choke it a couple of times myself. No one even noticed or at least mentioned it.

May GOD BLESS you in everything you do and THANKS, THANKS, THANKS, THANKS AGAIN.”

 * From Kristy Giardinelli, Canyon Lake Community Church after a day of staff training:
  “I would like to follow up this week early if possible as not to lose the full effect of the training day. Wow, Carolyn, you are truly awesome. I could not adequately express how impacting that day was...I hope for everyone, but I know for certain for Pete and myself. If nothing else, I am challenged to be a more compassionate Christian toward my fellow saints (because that was a weakness of mine).”
* From Dennis Hamilton, freelance designer, who read and will use Creating Highly Interactive Training Quickly & Effectively.
  “I just received your publication on Creating Highly Interactive Training today. I really appreciate the information. What a nice compact reference to have handy! Now I don’t have to schlep around all my big manuals when I need to review something. As I go through it I’m sure I’ll pick up little twists on known concepts that will push my buttons. There is really very little new information out there, but it’s the different ways to say or do things that really make a difference.

In the ‘needs analysis’ section I noticed that a few of the questions are based on common problem solving and supervisory techniques (I took two courses from Kepner-Tregoe years ago, and thought they were the best supervisory classes I’ve ever had). Funny how good supervisors parallel good teachers. Isn’t that what supervisors are supposed to do, i.e., training their people to perform? Duh!

Your booklet will be a valuable addition to my library.”

* From Phil Vitkus, Wizdom Education, responding to Using Humor in Training (in the September issue):
  “To avoid looking personally dumb with a joke that bombs and to take my own personality out of the picture, I quote others’ jokes. Then, if the joke bombs, I (and my audience) can attribute it to the person quoted. If it works, well, it works.”
* Ann gives us another use for The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush.
  “I gave one to a relative starting a new job.”

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Your Staff Will Be Inspired By Being Successful – a sample questionnaire you can use to identify competencies required for success.

We’re currently identifying the competencies required for success as a supervisor in our company.

 Please complete this questionnaire indicating what you believe to be the requirements for a successful supervisor at our company. When all of the questionnaires are returned, the information from them will be combined into a profile of supervisor competency requirements. A copy will be sent to you, and the results will be used to identify training needs, create supervisor-training, and establish requirements for the selection of new supervisors.

bullet What do you believe to be the primary function or purpose of a supervisor at our company?
bullet What percent of the requirements for a successful supervisor do each of the following categories represent? (Be sure the total is 100.) 
Management Competencies _________ %
Length of Company Service _________ %
Job Knowledge _________ %
Education _________ %
Total        100      %
bullet Read all 22 competencies and their definitions, then rank them in order of importance for success as a supervisor at our company. Use 1 for the most important all the way to 22 for the least. Use a number only once. If we missed an management competency, add it in the blank box, along with a definition, and include it in your ranking.





Oral Communication

Transferring a message by speech using appropriate gestures



Adjusting to changing conditions



Working with an individual to improve job performance


Decision Making

Consciously selecting the best alternative from two or more



Getting people to willingly accomplish objectives



Using delegated authority to meet assigned responsibilities



Passing authority to another



Receiving correctly another's oral communication


Stress Tolerance

Maintaining stability of performance under adverse conditions


Problem Analysis

Identifying the real problem and obtaining the information necessary to solve it



Interjecting planned thoughts or actions into a situation


Nonverbal Communication

Transferring a message to another without the use of words


Conflict Resolution

Reducing tension between two or more people and arriving at a mutually satisfactory conclusion



Outlining a course of action to achieve an objective



Projecting a positive initial and continuing presence



Ensuring the plan is followed and the objective met



Arriving at a mutually acceptable decision



Starting a task enthusiastically and maintaining that enthusiasm until completion



Structuring assigned resources to fulfill a plan



Correcting employee behaviors in a positive fashion


Written Communication

Transferring a message through writing

Are a manager or a supervisor?
_____Manager _____Supervisor

Adapted from, from John H. McConnell’s book How to Identify Your Organization’s Training Needs: A Practical Guide to Needs Analysis. You can print one copy for your personal use.

Make a Comment/Question

Get more tips on inspiring great employees from TRAINING SYSTEMS.

Understanding Leadership Competencies, by Pat Guggenheimer & Mary Diana Szulc (10% off by typing “RIR” in Special Instructions) or e-mail

Job Analysis at the Speed of Reality, by Darin Hartley


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You Upgraded Your Technology, But What About Your People?

Here's what I've seen on more than one occasion: the engineers launch a new technology project. Then a problem arises & the people-vs-machine finger pointing begins between operations & production. Too often, we spend so much time/$ on engineering the machine, but forget all about the people side of the technology equation. If the people part is done completely and correctly, you will achieve measurable benefits.

One company was able to get the second shift to reach production quotas and meet the requisite quality within two weeks. Another company reported no downtime due to "operator error" during a new plant startup. Other companies have found the training time (the time it takes an individual to reach contributing level) shrank anywhere between 30 and 60%.

These manufacturers achieved great results by using a systematic approach to engineering human performance, just like they did to engineering the machine.

Defining human performance technology (HPT)
Simply put, HPT is a systematic approach to creating the human performance you need. Typically, HPT is used to help resolve an existing conundrum. But the principles, practices, and techniques of HPT can also be used as a type of preventive medicine, especially when introducing new technology to a workforce. Each of the components of the HPT approach is listed below. To make it easy to see how it works, we’ll look at each component in the context of a new piece of machinery. This is only an example as the HPT process applies to every type of performance, not just that relates to the use of a machine:

Selection methods
If you select people with the wrong skill sets and competencies, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Here are some actions to take:

bullet make a list of the core skills that the new technology or process will require;
bullet make these skill statements performance-oriented (state what a person must be able to do), not knowledge-oriented (what a person must know);
bullet figure out if you are going to train incumbent workers or recruit people who already have those skills;
bullet develop instruments that enable you to verify an individual's competence in critical skills. Use devices that say "show me how to do this" instead of questions that say "tell me how you would do this".

The strength of the selection component will be dependent on compiling a list of tasks associated with the new machine. You need to know what people will be doing, so you can accurately specify what skills you want people to bring with them and what equipment-specific skills they will need to learn once they have the job.

Job duties and tasks
Focus on process analysis — examine what it is that people must be able to do to operate, maintain, and ensure quality in this new technology.

Now organize a list of tasks that have to be done by someone at some point in time. The definition of a task is that it must be:

  • a discrete unit of work that has a distinct beginning and end;
  • an observable and measurable behavior performed by a person;
  • an activity that can broken into a step-by-step procedure;
  • an activity that can be completed in seconds, minutes or hours, but rarely - if ever - needs days or weeks to complete;
  • something for which an employer will pay.

Task performance standards
Establish measurable, observable criteria whereby a competent individual can determine if a specific, critical task has been done correctly and completely.

Measurable task standards can encompass all or some of the following elements:

  • quantity / output: what is the minimum acceptable output per task within a specified period of time?;
  • quality of work: what are zero defects? What determines that a specific task has been performed to minimum acceptable quality standards?;
  • timeliness: what is the minimum acceptable task delay tolerance, i.e., how much time can elapse before task performance starts;
  • precision of performance: is it a "go" or a "no go?" How accurate was the task?

These become the foundation of any training to be designed, developed, and delivered.

Training will have a dramatic impact – increasing productivity, decreasing unplanned downtime, reducing the learning curve, and reducing trial-and-error learning.

The thrust here is to approach "training" as part of a system for continuous improvement. Use a combination of structured on the job training system and classrooms. OJT will mean more time spent on the equipment getting hands-on experience and individual tutoring. But, some things are best learned away from the work floor where training does slow down production and creates a safety hazard.

Tools and references
Use standard operating procedures (SOPs), job aids, and other visual tools to minimize or mitigate process variations introduced by people.

For example, operators can use flowcharts to do first tier troubleshooting, rather than waiting on a mechanic. Expanded views of the equipment, with components and parts labeled, will allow the operator to communicate more clearly, with proper terminology, when attempting to describe a problem with the equipment. The use of such job aids can dramatically reduce training time and structured OJT development costs.

Feedback and inputs
Give people feedback early and frequently. Help them   understand - in clear and simple terms- project objectives – why these technological upgrades are necessary and how they present opportunities for changes in the way things are done.

Let workers know that concurrent with your commitment to technology upgrades is an equal commitment to employee development. Assure them that you will provide them with adequate and timely training support.

Finally, set up a structure to harvest process improvement ideas during the debugging and trial run stages. The methods can be as simple as setting up flip charts for people to log problems, solutions, and ideas or you can gravitate toward a more formal arrangement such as a Kaizen team.

Whatever you do, be sure to capture suggestions and provide constructive feedback in a timely and meaningful manner. Leave out the feedback mechanism and you will get a drought of ideas.

Implementing any new manufacturing process or a technology upgrade requires some degree of training. But HPT goes beyond training, and examines the systems and factors that impact upon human performance. In fact, HPT will look for ways other than training to produce the intended results.

Training is an effective tool, but it is also an expensive one. Don't make training the first (or only) bullet you fire.

Adapted from March, 2000 Advanced Manufacturing magazine article by Bill Stetar

Make a Comment/Question

Get more tips on training great employees from TRAINING SYSTEMS.

Creating Highly Interactive Quickly & Effectively, by Carolyn B. Thompson
Conducting a Needs Analysis, by Geri McArdle
(10% off by typing “RIR” in Special Instructions at above links) or e-mail

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Employee Retention is About Retaining the “Employee”!

 Read this interchange between several colleagues in a listserv, responding to someone looking for retention ideas (if you’re still not a member of a listserv because you don’t want all the e-mails – read this and consider the great ideas you’ll get!):


Colleague #1:
“A private organization here uses a very simple model [for deciding what positions to retain]. Draw two axes, one being "importance to the organization" and the other being "likelihood of leaving", then ascribe key positions/people to a point on the "importance to the org" axis and plot the likelihood of leaving on the other, you can then identify the people who fall into the quadrant of high importance/high likelihood of leaving and concentrate effort on retaining them.

The level of sophistication applied to identifying these factors and what you do to retain those at risk, along with the introduction of secondary strategies to prevent key people from ending up in the high risk category can be different for different organizations, depending on how serious an issue it is and how badly Exec want it fixed.

For instance, the rigor in deciding which positions are critical (e.g. what criteria do you use to decide) is one example since some of these positions might well change to reflect changing imperatives in the business plans. Others would remain critical no matter what the priorities are. Similarly, there is lots of scope to identify tailored rewards and recognition to target those at high risk of leaving.”


Colleague #2:
“[With all respect] employee retention has to do with who you are going to keep and who you are going to give the axe to. Employee retention isn't about what positions you are going to retain or get rid of based upon changing needs (it's about keeping PEOPLE)

People who have key talents that will help your organization grow
These people will have talent no matter what position they may be in. Yes, you will want to help make sure that they fill positions that will make the most of their talents, but they are not confined to any one position. The problem is, too many organizations can't keep good talent precisely because they tend to treat people in the manner in which you prescribed.

If you'd like some case studies, I'd suggest that you get the book Hidden Values by Charles O'Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer. It looks at 8 companies, 7 who are doing VERY well financially and 1 that is similar but isn't doing so well. I think you will see some similarities between those who are good at retention and the one (and so many others who are doing far worse at employee retention) that is the comparison. Yes, they are American companies, but some of them are international in scope. AES is one that I found very interesting.

If you are really talking strategy
It's all about living the kind of organization that you want to be. It's about believing that your people are valuable to the organization and treating them as such. It's about having a culture that believes in people, but also holds everyone accountable for doing their jobs. This means that each person owns their own job and is free to do it in the best way that they can, but that they are also responsible for insuring a timely and quality end product.

Organizations that provide a work environment (culture) where people really do like their jobs and want to be there have much higher retention rates than other organizations. That is a real strategy that thinks long-term. Planning how you are going to get rid of people and trying to keep good people is tactical in nature; it's totally short-term thinking. Why? Because in the end, those people who have real talent will be looking to leave that organization that just axed part of their workforce because they aren't going to feel like they can trust their organization.”


Colleague #3:
“The most important aspect is whether the company recognizes and appreciates the talented. In many places I have seen people leave big companies and shift to smaller ones just because they are listened better there. Of course pay and perks are important, but as an employee moves up his indifference curve flattens. His eye will be on excellence and achievement. As you know, achievement without appreciation rarely satisfies one's ego. I'd also suggest First Break All the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman. I think they say something like ‘People don't leave the organization, they leave their managers’.”


Colleague #4:
“Buckingham & Coffman’s conclusion about how managers impact upon retention and performance is right on, in my opinion. If we realize that managers control the work environment, then we can begin to understand how they do have so much impact.

It is the work environment that allows people to do their jobs well or that hinders them from being effective.
Let's face it, how often have people been sent off for training to learn how to do something differently, and a couple of months later we still see no difference? What kept the person from applying their learning? Sure, the environment in which they are working. There was either no support for the new approach or, worse yet, there was antipathy for allowing the person to do the new approach. (yes, I'm taking for granted that they actually learned the new approach.)

We tell employees that customer service is very important, then we do things or enacts rules that really say that following rules and doing what we said is more important than customers. Then we complain about how our employees don't give our customers good service. Why? Yep, you got it, it's the environment again.

These are the kinds of environments that we and our fellow managers create. It is the one thing that management really controls, and it is the one thing that greatly impacts upon employees' performance. When managers learn how to manage the environment and stop trying to manage people, they then become successful at creating an environment where people want to work and can be efficient and effective, thus, impacting upon the retention rates in a positive manner. When we stumble around trying to manage people and their performance, we just end up aggravating the employees and they leave. Maybe not all of them leave physically, but they leave just the same, even if it is just mentally.

The book Accountability by Rob Lebow and Randy Spitzer explains this in easy to implement detail, including a case study from Nordstrom’s Department Stores.

From parts of several e-mails on employee retention in the
performance management listserv (sign up at


Hidden Values, by Charles A. O’Reilly & Jeffrey Pfeffer


First Break All The Rules, by Marcus Buckingham


Accountability, by Rob Lebow & Randy Spitzer


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Recruitment, inspiration, training, and retention ideasHave a recruitment, inspiration, training, or retention idea or question? Ask by clicking the question mark, and we’ll post your idea or question (and the answer) in Answers & Ideas on Recruiting, Inspiring, Training, & Retaining Great Employees at

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October 20-21, 2003
Collaboration 2003, Loews Annapolis Hotel, Annapolis, MD,

October 20-24, 2003
University of Michigan Business School Strategic Human Resource Planning, Ann Arbor Campus, Ann Arbor, MI. 

October 26-28, 2003
Saratoga Institute’s Annual Conference: How HR Talks to Wall Street: Human Capital Scorecards, Measurement, and Workforce Analytics, Palm Springs, CA,

November 2, 2003
Insurance Conference Planners Association Annual Meeting, Kissimmee, FL,

November 2-5, 2003
TechLearn Conference & learning Showcase, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, FL,

November 5-9, 2003
International Career Development Conference, Marriott City Center, Oakland, CA,

November 17-20, 2003
Fifth Annual Corporate University Week, Orlando, FL,

November 20-21, 2003
Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2003 Conference and Expo: Recruiting for Profit, Leveraging High-Impact Talent, Javits, Center, New York, NY,

December 2-4, 2003
International Association of Exhibition Management Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, 

December 7-10, 2003
Workplace Learning Conference, Chicago, IL,

December 8-10, 2003
American Society of Association Executives Management & Technology Winter Conference, Washington, DC,

MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY, Saturday, October 25, 2003.

Millions will help others; millions of lives will be changed. What will you do? Start planning now. Ideas at


Indulge yourself and contribute to a great cause! Part of the proceeds from the items listed below goes to organizations that fight breast cancer:

Tommy Girl Simmering Body Mist
Vivienne Westwood Boudois Eau de Parfum
L’Occitane’s Rose Pepper Room Spray
Revlon Moisturous Lip Color
Avon’s Crusade Fashion Watch
Indigo Wild Betsy Bar
Estee Lauder’s Pink Ribbon Compact

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