Human Resources

inclusion

7 of the Best Tips for Recruiting a Truly Diverse Workforce

A wide range of studies has shown that companies with diverse teams—including diverse executive teams—consistently outperform their less-diverse competitors.

Specifically, research has shown that firms in the top quarter of their statistical group in terms of racial, ethnic, culture, age, and gender diversity are the most likely to demonstrate bottom-line growth higher than the average in their industries. Meanwhile, those in the lowest quarter in terms of employee diversity are less likely to display better-than-average financial results.

This correlation shows the greater success, in practical terms, of companies when they align themselves with the value of a truly diverse workforce. Their idea and innovation streams benefit from a broad cross-section of people with different life experiences, perspectives, and insights. Moreover, they are also more likely to continue to attract top-quality emerging talent and earn the loyalty of customers who have come to regard diversity as a deciding factor in their spending decisions.

The conclusion of multiple research projects, including a major 2016 study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst & Young, is that every facet of corporate life, from employee satisfaction to the quality of executive decision-making, gains from the development of a diverse workforce.

So how do companies go about making recruiting and hiring for diversity a central part of their human resources development plans? Here are a few guidelines for doing that well:

 

  1. Establish the goal

Set diversity goals that focus on increasing the quantity of diverse new hires within a continuing framework of recruiting and hiring for excellence. People who know today’s economic landscape point out that there is no shortage of highly qualified candidates across genders and ethnic backgrounds. The challenge is to find them, so fine-tuning a company’s initial HR practices is essential.

 

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  1. Broaden the job description

Create job descriptions that are inclusive, not exclusive. For example, when wording a job description, include both terms that are conventionally viewed as “masculine” (e.g., “competitive” or “driven”) with those conventionally seen as “feminine” (“collaborative” or “empathetic”). Such a balance is more likely to attract larger numbers of qualified candidates of both genders.

Another technique for lessening perceived gender bias in job announcements is to avoid superlative adjectives such as “superior” or “top performer.” Studies indicate that female candidates are less likely to publicly tout their own accomplishments and less likely to think of themselves as competitors.

 

  1. Communicate the priority

Bring the entire recruiting team together to agree on common definitions, goals, and practices. Communicate the importance of the company’s diversity goals to the recruiters, insisting that they place them front-and-center at every stage of the hiring process, from screening resumes to interviews. This will help to ensure that everyone on the hiring team will take ownership of the goal and consciously work to fulfill it.

 

  1. Address the bias

While the term unconscious bias may have become somewhat of a cliché, experts like those on a recent Forbes Human Resources Council panel point out that is only too real—and it has practical consequences for today’s corporations.

A lack of recruiter imagination and awareness about the capabilities of diverse job candidates leads to a lower-quality candidate pool, and therefore a perpetuation and reinforcement of unconscious bias throughout the organization. To stop this from happening, companies should address this problem consciously and specifically from the top.

As the Forbes experts pointed out, unconscious bias can begin with a candidate’s name on a resume. Are recruiters giving equal consideration to resumes headed with Latinx, Asian, Arabic, or traditionally African-American sounding names as to those that sound “white”?

 

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  1. Collaborate beyond boundaries

Broadening a firm’s networking universe will go a long way toward achieving a diverse workforce and a diverse C-suite.

Make it a point to partner and collaborate with external organizations that are themselves diverse and promote the value of diversity. For example, bringing in contract trainers and program leaders who exemplify the benefits of a diverse workforce tends to translate into greater acceptance of diversity throughout a company.

One highly successful way to increase a company’s network of diverse contacts is to utilize existing employees’ connections to diverse organizations. Consider starting resource groups of employees who can serve as hiring panelists or advisors or who can serve as entrees to conversations with outside organizations focused on diversity.

 

  1. Create a diverse recruiting team

The team charged with recruiting and hiring should itself be composed of people from a variety of backgrounds. Such a team is best suited for identifying excellence in a diverse pool of potential new hires. This will also go a long way toward demonstrating to diverse candidates that they will find understanding and acceptance within that company’s culture.

 

  1. Support new hires

Finally, as part of the onboarding and ongoing employee development process, make sure to champion a corporate culture that provides a support system for new hires from diverse backgrounds. Once these new employees have become part of the organization, it’s important to help them continue to grow, and to tap into their talents and insights to help the company become a truly multicultural and diverse workplace.

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project manager

8 Essential Soft Skills That You Need to Be a Successful Leader

The most effective leaders tend to possess both hard and soft skills. While conventional wisdom says that soft skills are innate, business psychologists and performance experts point out that they can be studied and learned.

While new entrepreneurs and CEOs may feel the need to focus on “hard” skills that involve technical aptitude and other skills that are easily quantified, the “soft” leadership skills that involve empathy, communication, negotiation, and relationship-building are just as important—if not more so—for keeping employees, customers, and funders happy over the long term. Here are some essential soft skills that the most successful leaders possess.

 

  1. Possess Social Intelligence

Social intelligence is cited repeatedly as one of the premier traits that make an effective leader. The term can be used broadly, although at its core it connotes an in-depth understanding of the dynamics between and among people, as well as an ease and comfort about operating in a wide range of interpersonal settings.

Some researchers specifically find that social intelligence consists of traits such as a sensitivity to the different personalities, needs, and drives of others, as well as tact, sensitivity, and the capacity to take on varied social roles, as needed.

Business psychologists recommend making a conscious effort to talk to and get to know a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds and different social contexts as one of the best ways to increase social intelligence.

Interpersonal skills, one of the skill subsets of social intelligence, are often best developed by maintaining a focus on active listening. The listener strives to see the world from the speaker’s point of view and to understand it as the speaker experiences it.

Networking organizations, as well as nonprofit groups devoted to public speaking, are often excellent venues for honing interpersonal and social skills.

 

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  1. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude

Experts point to another “soft” skill that is frequently overlooked, but which can have a positive ripple effect in the workplace: a positive attitude. This does not mean failing to acknowledge bad news or the existence of problems. What it means is that you should not allow negative situations to lower your own spirits and those of your team.

Leaders who respond to setbacks and challenges with a positive attitude that focuses on problem-solving will be able to keep themselves and their employees working productively, and the company will be more likely to be able to weather rough situations, well.

Additionally, leaders who possess hope and belief in their team and its mission can serve as an inspirational example over the long term for any company.

 

  1. Reward Good Performance

The best corporate leaders consistently demonstrate to their employees that they value their contributions to the company. They reward innovation, loyalty, and effort by offering both praise and perks. Even when a new idea or process doesn’t lead to the desired results, the employees who created it deserve commendations for their hard work.

 

  1. Acknowledge Special Events in Employees’ Lives

It’s important to acknowledge special events in employees’ lives: their birthdays, anniversaries, and personal and professional milestones. Celebrating—and when necessary, grieving—together knits a team closer together and boosts individual and collective morale.

 

  1. Keep Employees Informed

The more broadly and deeply that employees are kept informed and up-to-date about their work and industry, the better their performance will tend to be. Well-informed staff members are more likely to make good decisions that further the interests of the company in a competitive marketplace, and they can often build on their knowledge to upgrade products, services, or processes.

 

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Image courtesy of startupstockphotos.com at Pexels.com

 

  1. Share Power

Pre-hiring screening processes, combined with effective training, will result in companies with technologically skilled executives who can get the job done. However, when a business fails, it tends to do so because its leaders lacked soft skills.

The ability to empower employees and to provide the kind of inspiration and encouragement that makes them want to always do their best is harder to teach, but it remains a vital skill.

Managers who are skilled in the art of delegation and who build the scaffolding that supports a sense of ownership among staff, set their teams up for success by giving them more than just a job. They are empowering them to take the initiative necessary to drive further innovation.

 

  1. Communicate

Communication is the linchpin that holds work teams and companies together. Today’s most effective leaders understand that good communication skills can turn around a struggling company, while poor communication can confuse key stakeholders, destroy relationships, and drive away customers.

A leader who communicates well is respectful and courteous toward people at every level of an organization. He or she also displays a healthy amount of self-confidence, avoiding weak-sounding words such as “perhaps,” “possibly,” “just,” and “asap.”

 

  1. Manage Conflict So That Everyone Comes Out Ahead

One particularly important component of communication is the ability to manage conflict in a constructive way. A capacity to help your employees and peers to achieve positive resolutions to interpersonal conflicts is one of the primary hallmarks of higher-order leadership.

A manager who can serve as an empathetic, but impartial arbiter of personality clashes and differences of opinion—ideally facilitating a solution in which everyone collaborates and wins—will earn the respect of co-workers throughout every level of an organization.

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This Is How These 7 Top-Level Questions Can Help You Find the Best Fit for the C-Suite

Identifying, hiring, and onboarding top talent is a constant challenge for corporate human resources departments. Finding the best candidate for a senior executive role represents a major investment of time and energy on the part of HR staff.

Interviews with the final candidates are at the center of any executive-level hire. Expert recruiters, researchers, and frontline HR professionals offer a number of suggestions for crafting interview questions. The aim is to get to the heart of a candidate’s qualifications and zero in on his or her true potential value to the company.

Questions should be carefully crafted to elicit responses that demonstrate how a candidate would actually perform on the job, and determine whether he or she is the right fit for the company’s culture. Here are seven types of questions that will help determine this:

 

  1. How has the candidate achieved results?

Ask candidates how, specifically, they have produced their results. This can indicate their motivations and can differentiate between those who emphasize taking responsibility and those who focus on salary and bonuses.

 

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  1. What can the candidate teach others?

Asking candidates for top-level positions what they can teach their teams helps interviewers identify their management styles and leadership personalities. This can demonstrate how they would actually behave as coaches in one-on-one situations, how they would facilitate exceptional performance from their staff, and how they would add value to the company overall.

 

  1. How can the candidate motivate and support staff?

Ask how a candidate would manage under-performing staff. This can provide insights into the management style and philosophy he or she would bring to your company.

Interview responses could raise concerns about a too-critical approach, in which a candidate might make snap judgements about an employee. Alternatively, answers could point to a laissez faire perspective that could allow poor performance to go unchecked.

The right person for the job, however, should demonstrate a judicious approach to identifying documented shortcomings and putting an effective plan in place to address them. Such a plan would provide valuable mentoring and motivation to an under-achieving staff member—for the benefit of all concerned.

 

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  1. How does the candidate handle controversy?

Another way to assess a candidate’s team-building skills is to ask how he or she has worked to foster a sense of common goals and vision among employees with diverse and—and even conflicting—outlooks and opinions.

 

  1. What are the candidate’s dreams and goals?

Asking candidates why they are considering leaving their current positions as well as the reasoning behind prior career transitions can reveal insights into their long-term goals, deeply-held values, personal preferences, and internal motivations.

Having candidates describe the best manager or peer-level colleague they have ever worked with can point to the type of leader they would be. It can also indicate the qualities they hold in high regard as well as the direction they would like their professional development to take. An inquiry about which business leaders the candidate looks up to as role models can likewise illustrate his or her leadership preferences and goals.

 

  1. Is the candidate an effective change-agent?

The only constant in today’s business world is change. Finding out how a potential executive would implement and deal with change can be among the most important determinations in the hiring process.

One way to do this is to ask about change management at the candidate’s current or most recent company. How has the implementation of change played out within the organization? You also want to know how the candidate engaged with the new landscape.

Similarly, ask candidates to describe the most significant change-related project they have undertaken and what steps they took to ensure it was successful. This can reveal how they might help to foster positive change within your organization.

 

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  1. What is the candidate’s communication style?

A number of behavior-related questions can help create a picture of a candidate’s communication style. These can include asking how they have resolved personality conflicts with colleagues and whether they have experience formally presenting their ideas and suggestions to other top executives.

But there are also questions that will get at the core of a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively. Asking how they to communicate one-on-one with board members can help differentiate between individuals who are overly tied to a PowerPoint presentation and those who can genuinely engage with influencers and decision-makers in ways that build relationships and open new pathways for growth.

It’s also important to go beyond asking candidates how they might perform as a member of a company’s internal communication network. Communicating with a wide range of external audiences and stakeholders—including media representatives and government regulators—is essential to maintaining and developing a company’s brand.

Ask how the candidate would address the topic of a missed deadline or a failed project with a board member, major customer, or reporter. You can also measure high-level communication skills by asking how the candidate successfully introduced an initially unpopular concept.

Recruiters are looking for potential leaders to demonstrate mental and emotional fluency as well as confidence. Many expert recruiters advise gauging these skills by paying careful attention to the questions candidates ask during an interview. Strong candidates aren’t afraid to ask questions to ensure their answers are complete and appropriate.

 

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7 of the Best Insights on Building an Effective Corporate Culture

Across industries, companies are learning that a strong corporate culture that values and develops the company’s own human capital is an essential asset in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Experts point out that employees who feel that their values and those of their companies are well-aligned are more likely to work at peak performance and help the organization to grow.

Read on for some important insights into the importance of a company culture.

 

  1. Building—and fixing—corporate culture

In their 2011 book Corporate Culture and Performance, John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett provide a comprehensive overview of the ways in which a company’s culture can either foster its economic success or create problems. Their research, focused on the cultures at major firms such as Hewlett-Packard, Nissan, Xerox, and hundreds of others, resulted in a range of insights about how positive and negative qualities of organizational cultures emerge and cement themselves over time.

One of the key takeaways of Kotter and Heskett’s book is their insight that “strong” organizational cultures do not automatically lead to exceptional economic performance. They point out that although a number of common norms and best practices can often foster success, these same traits can exist within cultures that have become overly bureaucratic, solipsistic, and dysfunctional, leading to a difficulty in embracing beneficial change. Furthermore, even when a corporate culture aligns well with a company’s strategic plan, it must still be able to adapt to shifts in markets and against a dynamic competitive background.

In any case, Kotter and Heskett advocate for increasing the quality of leadership as an essential step toward building a healthy organizational culture and keeping it responsive to ongoing challenges. The heads of the successful companies they studied focused on delivering strong, positive, and relevant new vision statements while modeling strong leadership and a customer-focused attitude for their managers and staff at each tier of the organization. This type of responsive leadership not only creates a high-functioning corporate culture, but it can go a long way toward repairing one that has become ineffective.

 

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  1. Creating a supportive culture

In a 2017 interview with Time, author and HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington outlined some of the qualities she finds important to fostering a strong and effective organizational culture. One of these is a concentration on transparency and openness. When leadership is open about problems, the company is better able to correct and learn from these mistakes—often even recognizing and addressing challenges before they become major problems.

Huffington also emphasized a topic much discussed in business circles today: building a support system to help managers and staff (top executives included) to avoid burnout and achieve a workable balance among responsibilities in all areas of their lives.

 

  1. Focusing on staff-driven ideas

A 2018 piece in Forbes magazine offered a list of practical actions, sourced from experienced CEOs, that companies can take to bolster the effectiveness of their cultures.

One company, dataxu, holds an annual “Innovation Day,” in which staff forgo their usual duties to work on various prototypes and concept development projects. After the innovation teams demonstrate their products, the whole group votes for the ones they like best. The company has already put more than half the Innovation Day ideas into practice.

 

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  1. Being flexible to nurture new insights

Another item from the Forbes article advocates allowing staff to work from home or another off-site location. Some companies even allow staff to plan working vacations abroad and use online tools such as Slack to stay in the loop on important projects. Employees appreciate the flexibility, and they return with fresh perspectives.

 

  1. Setting perks according to values

Brett Farmiloe, the CEO and founder of Markitors, stresses the importance of making sure that employee perks are in line with overall organizational values. One of his company’s values is “You Are Unique,” and in recognition of everyone’s individuality, each employee receives a paid day off on their birthday.

Other ideas for perks include sponsoring community engagement through company volunteerism, providing generous opportunities to use time off, and offering casual spaces that foster conversation, such as a coffee bar or break room.

 

The best way to improve productivity in companies

courtesy of Zorgnetwerk Nederland

 

  1. Flattening hierarchies to enhance communication

The 2018 book Entrepreneur Voices on Corporate Culture, by the staff of Entrepreneur magazine, points out that a company’s culture is defined starting at the top.

The book suggests flattening out hierarchies and communication structures, which can ensure that a greater range of voices and opinions are heard by top management, leaving employees with the freedom to express themselves without fear of retribution. This method also gives leaders the opportunity to learn of potential problems from those who often see them first: the staff working at the front lines of the organization.

The book also notes that successful corporate cultures foster collaboration, strategic risk-taking, informed decision-making, and trust and respect among all levels of a company.

 

  1. Establishing a shared vision

Among its other lessons for CEOs, the Entrepreneur book notes that corporate culture is formed at a much deeper level than that of perks, as welcome as those may be.

In order to become truly successful and competitive in its field, a company should concentrate on establishing a foundation of shared vision, principles, and goals on how it does business, as well as how it treats its employees, customers, and the wider community.