HIRING & Here Are My Comments on What Research Says Are 11 Questions You Be Asking Candidates

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Hiring a new employee is a momentous decision that I have helped many churches and university committees tackle.  Here is a list of 10 questions I try to ask with a commentary on each.  The 10 questions are based upon the hiring questions from James Kerr’s article in Inc. Magazine (bulleted points by James Kerr, Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16).  My thoughts are in red.

Here are 10 questions that should be used to assess the quality of the leaders in the place and to help in the selection of those to come.

By James Kerr, Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16.

(Comments in red by Bob Whitesel PhD).

1. The leader works to understand their industry and contribute to its evolution through their company’s work? You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and those can become movers and shakers within their industries.

It is important she/he be a “mover and shaker” in the future of their field.

2. The leader communicates the firm’s vision and strategies and helps their team to better understand how they contribute to the achievement of Company goals? You want leaders that understand, buy-into and can communicate the firm’s strategies to their people.

A good communicator.

3. The leader demonstrates executive presence and is comfortable working at all levels of an organization? You want leaders that have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.

Who understands and is well read on the views of today’s younger generations.

4. The leader is an exceptional trust-builder? You want leaders of high integrity that you can be counted on.

This is a key.  It should be someone of whom the committee senses they can trust to do the right thing for the team (not just for the organization).

5. The leader inspires followership and can build a strong team around them? You want leaders that people want to work for and with.

Who understands different types of leaders and can build a team with what she/he is given.

6. The leader is a thought leader that can introduce new ways of “thinking” and “doing”? You want leaders that are always pushing to be better.

Who is an ‘organic intellectual’ (Antonio Gramsci) who makes difficult ideas easy to understand, e.g. may have written easy-to-read books on difficult subjects.

7. The leader is an outstanding communicator, skilled at both listening and messaging? You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.

Does she/he listen? Or do they run headlong with their own projects.

8. The leader routinely provides feedback and coaching to their team? You want leaders that are always working to make their team better.

Are they a conflict-avoider? Do they welcome criticism?

9. The leader rewards outstanding performance and knows how to reward the “right” people? You want leaders that recognizes talent and rewards people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism.

Will they ask staff to do things without compensation, because the staff will do so? Instead, will they help move an organization where staff and volunteers do not feel taken advantage of.

10. The leader can demystify complex concepts and teach them to their teams? You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

Someone who brings out the best in the team they are given.

Original bulleted points retrieved from … http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/top-10-leadership-assessment-questions.html

HIRING & Top 10 Leadership Assessment Questions You Should be Asking a Potential Hire

Here are 10 questions that should be used to assess the quality of the leaders in the place and to help in the selection of those to come.

By James Kerr Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16.

1. The leader works to understand their industry and contribute to its evolution through their company’s work? You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and those can become movers and shakers within their industries.

2. The leader communicates the firm’s vision and strategies and helps their team to better understand how they contribute to the achievement of Company goals? You want leaders that understand, buy-into and can communicate the firm’s strategies to their people.

3. The leader demonstrates executive presence and is comfortable working at all levels of an organization? You want leaders that have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.

4. The leader is an exceptional trust-builder? You want leaders of high integrity that you can be counted on.

5. The leader inspires followership and can build a strong team around them? You want leaders that people want to work for and with.

6. The leader is a thought leader that can introduce new ways of “thinking” and “doing”? You want leaders that are always pushing to be better.

7. The leader is an outstanding communicator, skilled at both listening and messaging? You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.

8. The leader routinely provides feedback and coaching to their team? You want leaders that are always working to make their team better.

9. The leader rewards outstanding performance and knows how to reward the “right” people? You want leaders that recognizes talent and rewards people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism.

10. The leader can demystify complex concepts and teach them to their teams? You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/top-10-leadership-assessment-questions.html

DIVERSITY & 3 Steps to Start Designing a Bias-Free Organization

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Subtle practices in language, hiring, promotion and programming in an organization can unintentionally lead to unintended and unexpected biases. Read this seminal interview with Iris Bohnet, director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, cochair of the Behavioral Insights Group and author of the book, What Works, about how researchers have discovered how to foster a more bias-free organization.

Designing a Bias-Free Organization

by Gardiner Moorse, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016.

Iris Bohnet thinks firms are wasting their money on diversity training. The problem is, most programs just don’t work. Rather than run more workshops or try to eradicate the biases that cause discrimination, she says, companies need to redesign their processes to prevent biased choices in the first place.

Bohnet directs the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and cochairs its Behavioral Insights Group. Her new book, What Works, describes how simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance. In this edited interview with HBR senior editor Gardiner Morse, Bohnet describes how behavioral design can neutralize our biases and unleash untapped talent…

HBR: Organizations put a huge amount of effort into improving diversity and equality but are still falling short. Are they doing the wrong things, not trying hard enough, or both?

Bohnet: There is some of each going on. Frankly, right now I am most concerned with companies that want to do the right thing but don’t know how to get there, or worse, throw money at the problem without its making much of a difference. Many U.S. corporations, for example, conduct diversity training programs without ever measuring whether they work. My colleague Frank Dobbin at Harvard and many others have done excellent research on the effectiveness of these programs, and unfortunately it looks like they largely don’t change attitudes, let alone behavior. (See “Why Diversity Programs Fail” by Frank Dobbin.)

I encourage anyone who thinks they have a program that works to actually evaluate and document its impact. This would be a huge service. I’m a bit on a mission to convince corporations, NGOs, and government agencies to bring the same rigor they apply to their financial decision making and marketing strategies to their people management. Marketers have been running A/B tests for a long time, measuring what works and what doesn’t. HR departments should be doing the same.

What does behavioral science tell us about what to do, aside from measuring success?

Start by accepting that our minds are stubborn beasts. It’s very hard to eliminate our biases, but we can design organizations to make it easier for our biased minds to get things right. HBR readers may know the story about how orchestras began using blind auditions in the 1970s. It’s a great example of behavioral design that makes it easier to do the unbiased thing. The issue was that fewer than 10% of players in major U.S. orchestras were women. Why was that? Not because women are worse musicians than men but because they were perceived that way by auditioners. So orchestras started having musicians audition behind a curtain, making gender invisible. My Harvard colleague Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton showed that this simple change played an important role in increasing the fraction of women in orchestras to almost 40% today. Note that this didn’t result from changing mindsets. In fact, some of the most famous orchestra directors at the time were convinced that they didn’t need curtains because they, of all people, certainly focused on the quality of the music and not whether somebody looked the part. The evidence told a different story…

What are examples of good behavioral design in organizations?

Well, let’s look at recruitment and talent management, where biases are rampant. You can’t easily put job candidates behind a curtain, but you can do a version of that with software. I am a big fan of tools such as Applied, GapJumpers, and Unitive that allow employers to blind themselves to applicants’ demographic characteristics. The software allows hiring managers to strip age, gender, educational and socioeconomic background, and other information out of résumés so they can focus on talent only.

There’s also a robust literature on how to take bias out of the interview process, which boils down to this: Stop going with your gut. Those unstructured interviews where managers think they’re getting a feel for a candidate’s fit or potential are basically a waste of time. Use structured interviews where every candidate gets the same questions in the same order, and score their answers in order in real time.

You should also be thinking about how your recruitment approach can skew who even applies. For instance, you should scrutinize your job ads for language that unconsciously discourages either men or women from applying. A school interested in attracting the best teachers, for instance, should avoid characterizing the ideal candidate as “nurturing” or “supportive” in the ad copy, because research shows that can discourage men from applying. Likewise, a firm that wants to attract men and women equally should avoid describing the preferred candidate as “competitive” or “assertive,” as research finds that those characterizations can discourage female applicants. The point is that if you want to attract the best candidates and access 100% of the talent pool, start by being conscious about the recruitment language you use.

What about once you’ve hired someone? How do you design around managers’ biases then

The same principle applies: Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare…

How can firms get started?

Begin by collecting data. When I was academic dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, one day I came to the office to find a group of students camped out in front of my door. They were concerned about the lack of women on the faculty. Or so I thought. Much to my surprise, I realized that it was not primarily the number of female faculty that concerned them but the lack of role models for female students. They wanted to see more female leaders—in the classroom, on panels, behind the podium, teaching, researching, and advising. It turns out we had never paid attention to—or measured—the gender breakdown of the people visiting the Kennedy School.

So we did. And our findings resembled those of most organizations that collect such data for the first time: The numbers weren’t pretty.

Here’s the good news. Once you collect and study the data, you can make changes and measure progress…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization

CULTURE MATCHING & Why People Like to Work Alongside People Like Themselves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Kellogg School of Management researcher Lauren A. Rivera found that management teams work best when there is a degree of cultural matching between participants. This implies that though team members come from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, once they have forged a team with a similar mission and vision the result in a new team culture, which then affects selection of additional participants.

Churches that want to break down ethnic, racial and cultural barriers must be aware that some cultural matching will be required to help people work more effectively as teams. But, if reconciliation is a church’s goal (and I believe it should be) then cultural matching with emerging team cultures can assist in that process and should be designed to create a “reconciliation culture” in the new team.

Read the article below (and at the link) for more insights upon cultural matching.

Hiring as Cultural Matching: The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms

by Lauren A. Rivera, American Sociological Review, 77(6) 999 –1022, 2012, pp. 999-1022.

Abstract
This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers’ hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture—particularly in the form of lifestyle markers—matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.

Keywords
cultural capital, culture, hiring, homophily, inequality, interpersonal evaluation, labor markets

Read more at … http://www.asanet.org/journals/ASR/Dec12ASRFeature.pdf

HIRING & Why People Like to Hire People Like Themselves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  A student once asked about why I require students to utilize 3-5 outside scholarly sources to support their statements.  I do this for two reasons.  First, a graduate school is based upon research, so students must not just conjecture but actually support their ideas from the words of juried scholarly sources. Secondly I require 3-5 sources (per week only) because scholarly sources are so easy to find today.  Let me give an example before we delve into the issue of hiring.

First, here is a student’s statement (with thesis) and my response regarding how (in less than 3 seconds) I found a juried (i.e. scholarly) source to support their thesis.

The student said:

Thank you (name) for your resource and thoughts on my post. I think that is a hard thing to do for a few reasons. First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them.

I responded:

Good comment (name).  I agree. But, to earn even more points, be sure to a cite a scholarly source for the following thesis you stated, “First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them (source __________).”

Here is a source that I found (in about 3 sec.) by searching for the words: “hire people like them:http://www.businessinsider.com/managers-hire-people-who-remind-them-of-themselves-2014-5

You should use this system of searching for key words to easily find sources like this to score more points in graduate school.  Dr. Whitesel

Now, here is the article to answer the question in the title:

If You Want To Get Hired, Act Like Your Potential Boss

by , Business Insider Magazine, 5/29/14.

… Drawing from 120 interviews with employers, as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, Kellogg School of Management professor Lauren Rivera has found that hiring managers want recruits who have the potential to be friends.

“Hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting,” writes Rivera. “It is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but culturally similar to themselves.”

In other words, you have the same tastes, experiences, leisure pursuits, and social markers as the person across the table.

Rivera’s research found that companies might have notable levels of demographic diversity — it’s not only white dudes who work there — but still have deep-level homogeneity. Folks might have different skin colors, but they still grew up in the same handful of zip codes, attended the same elite colleges, and play the same sports…

Read more at … http://www.businessinsider.com/managers-hire-people-who-remind-them-of-themselves-2014-5

HIRING & How to Hire Without Getting Fooled by First Impressions

by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review, 2/22/16.

Key takeaway: “So in order to find the best candidates, you have to unsee the pseudo cues that grab your attention but are irrelevant to the job. Fine-tune your vision to pinpoint the real cues that matter for performance. Instead of “going with your gut,” use analytics to hone in on the right type of candidate.

Take all your past data on who has succeeded and failed in the role (or similar roles, if this is a new position) and analyze each person’s characteristics in a regression.

Which independent variables (GPA, major, extracurriculars, interview answers) predict success or failure? If you let the data speak, you’ll learn the hidden profile of success so you can distinguish the real cues that matter from the pseudo cues that don’t — so you can cull through the pile of resumes and the hours of interviews more efficiently.”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/02/how-to-hire-without-getting-fooled-by-first-impressions

HIRING FROM WITHIN & My Top 3 Things to Avoid If You Are Hired from Within the Organization

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/15/15.

A student once shared that he was hired from within the organization to fill the lead pastor role.  I have written (Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation, pp. 109-120) about why this is often a strategically wise practice.  And, research confirms this.

However, hiring from within also brings caveats.  Following the student’s comments, are my top three things you must avoid.

Joshua D. (a student) wrote, “This article is very encouraging.  I have been at KSM for 15 years as music pastor and Administrator and just found out Monday, as of January 1st I will be taking the Senior Pastor position.  This class could not have come at a better time.  Thank you for investing in us.”

My response about Top Three Things to Avoid:

Congratulations Joshua, I have a couple suggestions I make students:

RULE #1:  Even though you’ve been at the church a while, a “listening tour” is the first thing I would do. Tell the people that though you have been around for a long time, you want to have fresh eyes and fresh ears to hear what they haven’t told you before. This is because in this new position you have a new relationship! So don’t get defensive or answer them yet. Just go to them privately and ask them, “What do I need to hear from you?”

RULE #2:  Secondly tell them you’re going to go slow before you make any changes. Remember going slow and building consensus is the secret to making change happening in a unifying manner (see research and examples in the chapter, “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church, pp. 151-169 which you can download here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow. Also, you will find even more extensive examples in Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About ItAbingdon Press.)  Even though you have been at the church for some time, some people may have felt that the previous later wasn’t open to their ideas. And, they will immediately start to politic you. You do not want to be perceived as taking sides. So listen to them and explain to them their ideas must go through proper channels (baords, vetting by people affected, etc.). Get them working with others who they’ve been at odds with in the past to move the idea forward.  Do not becomes the champion of the new idea or you will be perceived as taking sides. Taking sides on methodology (not theology) is one of the most dangerous positions a new pastor can find her or himself in.

RULE #3:  And this brings us to the third point: don’t get in between people with different opinions – but rather get them working together to solve their differences. As you remember in my book Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It(Abingdon Press) that when a new leader comes into a position (even if they been a leader in the church for many years) there will arise a new activity of politicking to get the new leader to support their side. You must remember … don’t get in the middle. Research shows the best thing is to get them working out their differences between each other without you in the middle (again download this chapter for the research footnotes: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow.) So don’t, repeat don’t, let them put you in the middle as a go-between between them. Do not be a mediator or negotiator. Force them to meet with one another and to come up between them with a third option. The secret is not for you to be the negotiator, but for them to conduct negotiations face-to-face. That way there is no communication filter or opportunity for them to blame you for miscommunicating their position. So don’t be a go-between – be someone that gets people to talk out their differences with each other (and without you there 🙂  Of course they must still bring it back to you for affirmation. But don’t affirm a compromise, until they work it out themselves.