SummaryEmployee management is part of every manager’s responsibility. But it’s 2013: not 1913, 1953 or even 1983. We must discard the HR practices that served us well in the 20th Century. Today’s workplace demands that.7 Core PracticesHow many of these statements reflect your view of HR?
For every vacancy, seek a resume, written application or a completed application form
An annual formal performance appraisal is a valuable and necessary tool
The face to face interview is an essential part of staff selection
Training is the key factor in performance improvement
We must develop each individual to their potential
HR policy and procedure manuals are valuable tools for managers
References from previous managers are a valuable resources in the selection process.
There is another approach. How do you respond to these statements?
Resumes and written applications are a major source of error in staff selection
Formal annual performance appraisals are a bureaucratic HR construct they have little valve in improving on job performance
You simply cannot tell what people can do merely by talking to them
Of itself, training rarely improves on job performance
The basic human unit in the workplace is the team not the individual. Successful businesses are made up of successful teams
Performance systems and standards, not HR policy and procedures are the key to successful on job performance
References may be valuable reassurance. That’s all. Nothing else. Should you allow your selection decision to be influenced by a complete stranger talking about the past?
How many of these statements do you agree with? Do they seem heretical? They will if you’re locked into conventional HR practice.Let’s look at each individually
Resumes and written applications are about the past. They’re what a candidate wants you to know. This may not coincide with what you really want to know. It’s estimated that 70% of all resumes are prepared by professional resume writers. They’ve become a sales tool.
Performance measurement is far too important to be left to a six or twelve monthly event. We now have the technology to enable employees to measure their own performance monthly, weekly or even daily
The face to face interview still has a place in selection. It should be used only towards the end of the process for clarification and to discuss issues relating to culture fit
Most employee performance problems occur because people “won’t do” rather than “can’t so”. You need well trained staff but you need lots more too.
We employee individuals. But we expect them to be effective team members for the benefit of the business. Workplace teams don’t need to be built. They exist. They’re normal in the workplace. Developing effective teams is more important than developing effective individuals.
Managers have one major obligation to employees. It ranks above all others. They must “put systems in place that ensure that it will be impossible for employees to fail”. A poor system will beat a good performer every time. Personnel policy and procedure must support performance systems and performance standards.
References are about the past. Selection’s about the future. And you usually don’t know anything about the person providing the reference, written or oral. If you must do reference checks ask only one question; “Would you give (name applicant) a job as a (name vacancy) in your company?” That’s the best way to get useful information.
The 21st Century WorkplaceToday’s workplace is very different from the typical 20th Century workplace. The PC, iPad, iPhone and all their relatives have made a vast difference. Today’s pc is far more powerful and valuable than the huge main frames of only 20 years ago.Every employee now has masses of data at their fingertips. They no longer need close supervision. They have “mountains” of feedback available to them instantly if necessary. Management needs only to establish the systems so that masses of data becomes valuable and useful performance information. As Tom Gilbert says, “Information is data you can use”.Much of what employees are able to do today was regarded as “management work” 20 years ago or less. Now employees can run the business on a day to day basis. This means managers are free to devote most of their time to genuine management work.20th Century HR BureaucracyThere’s no longer a need for 20th Century HR bureaucracy. There’s no need for the form filling, the checking, the admin minutiae. Today’s HR professionals can provide a genuine service that helps managers achieve business goals. And they can help managers establish the performance systems and standards. HR must function as a collaborator with operations, sales and production staff. There’s no need for HR specialists as mediator between employees and management. After all, managers are responsible for employee management.What To do InsteadTo replace bureaucratic practices, I suggest
Written applications: don’t ask for them. Instead, ask applicants to phone – remember the telephone? – you direct. Conduct a brief screening interview. Reject all unsuitable applicants. Make up a short list based on your screening interviews. Proceed only with the shortlisted candidates. You’ll save hours and hours of unnecessary reading and evaluating.
Put systems in place to enable employees to measure their own performance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. You’ll need specific measurable performance standards to do this. But the system will show “how each employee’s going”.
Place the face to face interview last in your selection process. Interview after you’ve conducted tests where applicants demonstrate that they have the skills you seek. Use the interview primarily to assess “culture fit”.
Continue to train well: but recognize that performance problems usually occur because of poor systems not poor training. Even the best training can be derailed by a poor system.
Focus on team not individual performance: ensure that individual staff members are effective team contributors. Team effectiveness depends on role and goal clarity, not on interpersonal relations.
Effective performance systems and clear performance standards are the absolute essentials for effective employee performance. Take the time and trouble to create effective systems.
Don’t ask for references. Ignore those presented by applicants. Use a probation period to ensure the new hire can do your job for you.
Conclusion20th Century HR practices have served us well for a century. But they’re past their use by date. Modern technology provides far more effective techniques for today’s managers. Use them. Otherwise you’ll be overrun by managers who do.