I've been doing business with service organizations for years, and have found there are five issues that prevent employers from achieving the levels of success they desire. Here are two of my findings.
Faulty hiring processes
Most organizations approach the hiring process as if they were selecting a vendor to maintain the plants around the office. They put together an RFP (also known as a job description) and announce to the masses that they are looking for help. They then wait until someone comes along who looks like he or she can do the job. Sometimes they get lucky and that person actually works out. But in most cases, the bloom is off the rose in about a week's time. This is when they realize that perhaps they should have taken more care when making their selection. By then, it's too late. The damage has been done.
Hiring the wrong person can have a devastating impact on businesses that rely on their reputation, especially in the service industry. Think about it. Would you book a room at an expensive resort after reading a review from someone who had an encounter with a disengaged employee? Would you return to a restaurant where your dining experience was less than satisfactory? Most of us would do our best to avoid situations where service failures appear to be the norm. Instead, we might pay a bit more for a room at a resort or a meal at a restaurant where service was the rule, rather than the exception.
Here's what I mean by this. I was recently in Las Vegas on business. While there, I had lunch at the Platinum Hotel. It took over an hour to receive our meal. No one came by our table to apologize for the wait, nor did anyone offer bread or a complimentary beverage to tide us over. In fact, the entire time we were there, we never saw a manager in the restaurant.
Compare this to the dining experience I had the next evening at Bouchon, a Thomas Keller restaurant. The general manager, Andy St. John, greeted us at the door and personally escorted us to our table. He then returned with complimentary cocktails for our group of four. There were a few communication snafus along the way, but the staff quickly worked together to ensure the best dining experience possible. The evening was topped off with the waiter eliminating the charges for dessert, with little fanfare. We spent the ride home discussing how impressed we were with the service. A stark contrast to the conversation we had about our dining experience the day before at the Platinum.
Which restaurant do you think has a higher rate of return customers? I'm guessing Bouchon, as we did our best the next day to avoid having lunch again in our hotel.
A good hiring process has the following elements:
Clearly defined job descriptions
How do you know if a person is right for the job if you don't really know what the job is? Take the time to clearly define the duties, skills, and traits you are looking for so that when the right person walks in the door, you will know it.
When is the last time you experienced your own hiring process? If it's been more than a year, then perhaps it's time to reapply at your own company. What's it like? Is the process welcoming, or is it cumbersome? Are you being courted, or herded like cattle? Would you encourage a friend to apply for an open position, or would you be too embarrassed to do so?
The best and the brightest employees are hard to obtain, especially for organizations that are known for their slow and tedious hiring processes. By the time you make these people an offer, they've already found work with one of your competitors.
Hiring managers that are skilled in employee selection
You are assigned the role of manager, which includes selecting the right people for your team. Yet you've never been trained on how to do this. It's no wonder why so many managers fail miserably when it comes to hiring.
It doesn't have to be this way. The ability to select top talent is a skill that can be developed with training and practice. How do I know this? I've successfully trained and coached hundreds of managers, across industries, on how to hire top talent. The dramatic reduction in employee turnover and increased productivity is evidence that this is a skill that can be learned. The return on investment is one that you will reap for years to come.
Failure to prepare leaders for their role in management
Great employees can be great managers with proper guidance and support along the way. Unfortunately, organizations that give their managers this support are few and far between. The attitude of, "I learned this through the school of hard knocks, so why shouldn't my people do the same?" is considered a rite of passage in many organizations. But what if this rite of passage is wrong?
Experience with my clients has shown me that most employees really want to do a good job. Yet everyday they are faced with systems and people who stand in the way of them achieving their goals. Think of all the energy it has taken you to learn what you know today. Now imagine how much better off your organization would have been if you (and your people) had spent that energy on top line growth and bottom line profitability.
Dare to be different. Make a promise to invest in the training and development of your high potentials and those in leadership roles. Examine all your options, as you may be surprised that in many cases, traditional training will not help you achieve the objectives you are seeking. Resist the temptation to find the cheapest solution. Instead, find a partner who is willing to give you what you need, instead of only what they have to offer. Focus on the value offered and begin to create an organization where extraordinary levels of service are all in a day's work.
© 2011 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions (www.yourhrexperts.com) and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, In recognition for her accomplishments in client results, professional contributions and intellectual property, Roberta was recently inducted into the prestigious Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. She is one of a handful of international consultants to receive this honor. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.