Defining Your Culture and Hiring Strategically

By Patty Crabtree

Picture in your mind a race car speeding toward that waving checkered flag as it prepares to cross the finish line. If you think of a company like a high-performance car, culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly to help achieve your goals.

Culture reflects what is greatest, genuine, and noble about the company. It is the key behaviors an organization expects as the team works together and with its clients and vendors.

Culture establishes the foundation of the company and defines the qualities to be successful and help achieve its mission.

Overcoming A Culture Challenge

The culture journey for Bill’s company started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together. Bill communicated it to staff and shared it with his clients. He posted it on the breakroom wall as a reminder. The company even branded it in their email signature blocks.

But the challenge was their behaviors did not reflect those defined values. It was not the heart of the organization. The words chosen were what they seen other successful companies using to define their values. It just was not who they were, how they were making their decisions and how leadership was supporting staff.

This misalignment led to a high turnover rate. A turnover rate that cost not only the hard dollars and time to recruit new candidates, but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding and staff scrambling to cover all the work. The situation had an adverse impact on company morale. Overall, the company had stalled in its growth.

Bill and his leadership team were puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment and didn’t understand what was holding them back. They were committed to creating an environment for growth and decided to take a step back to reassess their approach.

Bill’s team went through an exercise to help them identify the genuine culture for their firm. What were the core values that would drive their business, their team? Through this effort, they uncovered their own unique style and reflected it in their values.

Then, they took it one step further. Each value was clearly defined to communicate what it meant to the organization. Definition statements were created for each value to describe its intent. These enhanced values were shared with staff and communicated on a regular basis. Leadership reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The updated values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, Bill’s company’s turnover was reduced by more than 50%. The recruitment process brought the right people to the team. Bill and his leadership team were successfully enhancing their infrastructure and teamwork which drove the growth.

Nurturing the culture and creating a stronger recruiting strategy took a focused effort to produce the desired results. In the long run, it paid dividends for them. Year after year they exceeded their goals and built a well-oiled machine.

Strong Culture Creates The Power of Alignment

One of the most powerful tools is alignment. Alignment brings a shared vision with everyone moving in the same direction.

Every company has culture whether it is by accident or by design. Some may be in that early growth stage and have been chasing the business opportunities, so culture has not been formally developed. Others may have determined their values but the day to day takes over and it isn’t nurtured.

If your company is being outperformed in the marketplace, you experience high turnover in key positions, financial performance is declining, or just want to move from good to great, often these issues are a result of an unhealthy culture.

Alignment empowers your staff with the knowledge of what to do, how to do it and why it is being done. It gives an emotional stability to their work world that encourages high performance.

Be Purposeful With Your Culture

Developing that path toward alignment is one part of the process. Being purposeful with it is another aspect. Leadership must walk the walk. If this does not happen, then your culture will struggle.

Once you have defined your culture and it has been effectively communicated to staff, a critical part of the process comes into play. To walk the walk. It starts with your leadership team embodying your culture in all their actions.

Clearly define how you want to lead, what is your purpose, something that rings true to the heart of the organization. Then, live by it consistently even though the hardest decisions.

Integrate Culture With Your Hiring Strategy And Beyond

At times, hiring can feel like a shot in the dark. You meet with the candidate, assess that they have the technical skills needed, you like them. So, you hire them and then 30-90 days you realize they aren’t fitting in and thriving in your organization. The situation can be confusing because on paper everything looked good though in execution it doesn’t meet your expectations

The missing piece here is understanding that person’s values and how it fits into your organization. Developing a recruiting process that supports your culture will help make it a more effective practice and lead to a stronger team environment. Hire people who believe in and display the values important to your organization. When someone comes onboard and does not embody your values, it can slow progress, disrupt teamwork, and cause morale issues.

Adopt Behavioral Interviewing

Once the core qualifications are met, the best interview questions are behavioral based. Questions around the candidate’s approach to certain situations or experiences.

In an interview, you want the candidate to speak more than you do. You want to know about their experiences and how they approach different situations. This does not come from asking the basic “tell me about yourself” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” This comes from “give me an example” or “tell me about a time.”

Ask the candidate to describe the culture at their last firm. Tell me about what worked well? What could have been improved? What are the elements of a company’s culture that they feel creates an excellent work environment? Have them share a story about how culture helped resolve an issue and what was their role in that resolution? Have them share a story about how culture inhibited a project they were working on and what happened.

Another approach is to interview your ‘A’ players about the qualities they feel makes them successful or someone successful in the position. Listen to their perspective on successful outcomes and teamwork. Use this information to build the behavioral based questions.

Open-ended questions are the best way to learn about people and determine their fit into your culture. Ask questions that tie into those success qualities for the position and have candidates share stories about their execution of the values most important to your organization.

Improve Onboarding Because Hiring Doesn’t End With An Offer Letter

Culture appears in every aspect of your organization. It flows through recruiting to onboarding and long-term retention.

The opportunity to instill your culture with a new team member is through a detailed onboarding process that reinforces your culture and expectations along with training on the systems and job specific tasks.

Many times, a company will bring someone in, have them complete the necessary paperwork, give them a quick tour, show them their desk, give them a quick overview and set them loose. This approach is a lost opportunity.

Developing a mapped-out onboarding process that includes learning about the organization, its culture, the different departments, and developing relationships along with the necessary job specific training can set a great foundation for success.

It helps create connection and enhance engagement. A well thought out onboarding process connects new hires to every aspect of the organization along with developing relationships throughout the firm. Many new hires express gratitude for this investment in their success.

Here Is The Bottom Line

Culture takes regular nurturing. Commit to creating an environment where staff will thrive, clients will receive excellent service and your external partners will feel valued and you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a team of inter-disciplinary specialists ready to help raise the effectiveness of critical functions within the organization, such as Sales, Customer Service, Operations, and IT. From team building to implementing cybersecurity technology, LCS consultants are uniquely suited to advise small, mid-sized and global companies. We can assist with in-depth workstyle and personality assessments along with skills testing for new hire candidates at all levels within an organization. Each is a former business executive with extensive strategic and tactical skills. Our consultants are poised to provide, on short notice, highly personalized and cost-effective guidance and tools to boost the performance of a department or organization. For additional information please email danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience along with building a successful remote workforce. She has extensive experience in successfully leading and growing teams. She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Do you have a Sales Plan?

By Patrick McClure

It’s common in the winter time to hear company executives complain about the holiday season. I can just hear them now:

“OMG, we only have two weeks in December, and the rest of the month is a waste of time. No one will be at their desks, and we won’t be able to sell anything!”

“Everyone has visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, and all they’re thinking about is what presents to buy for their loved ones. How in the world can we get them to focus on MC900439256[1]business?”

“I wish Thanksgiving and Christmas never existed! Arggghhhhh!”

Granted, for most companies December is a short month. Except for retailers, December is severely impacted by the holiday season and by vacations. However, December is an ideal time to put the finishing touches on your sales plan for the new year, so take advantage of this month to create a stellar plan for success in the new year.

Creating Your Sales Plan

The first step in creating your sales plan for the new year is to review your performance in the past year. For some tips on how to do this, you can read the 7 Step Sales Diagnosis Plan from our blog. If you’ve completed that review, you’ll have a solid grasp of the following essential elements:

  1. Sales Objectives and your performance results for the last year
  2. Highlights & Lowlights for the year
  3. SWOT Analysis updated
  4. Top 3 Problem areas to Fix
  5. Top 3 Opportunities for Growth

If your review of the last year is complete, you’re already ahead of the game. Now your attention can shift to goals and objectives for the new year, and how to make them a reality. Here’s a recommended process to get this done:

1. Write down your Objectives for the new year.

Casey Stengel said it best when he told his teams:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Without a defined specific and written objective, you are flying blind. You can’t hit a target if it is not defined, so get your targets written down.

Your key sales objectives will support the overall business plan for the new year, and will define the “big picture” objectives for your team. Some examples might be:

“To grow our market share from 10% to 20%”
“To increase total revenue by 30% by the end of the new year.”
“To launch our new system into the marketplace and to generate $1 MM in revenue”
“To reduce selling expenses by ________________”

2. Strategic Positioning

Given the defined sales objectives for the next year, you will now consider the best positioning your company needs to give yourself the best possibility of success. Think about questions like these:

♦  Identifying where the best market opportunity resides (which of the market segments offer the most potential given your differentiators).
♦  Which sales method to use?
♦  How should your sales organization be structured for maximum effectiveness?
♦  Who are your top competitors and how can they be eclipsed, neutralized or controlled?
♦  Who are the key partners and alliances?

3. Territory/Market Analysis

Given your objectives and your strategic positioning, deepen the analysis to define or refine your intended selling geographies or industries. This analysis would reveal:bizpeople on chessbd

♦  Size of territory, Industry specialization, key locations
♦  Installed Base Customers & Location
♦  # of Prospects, their industry, and their location

4. Unique Value Proposition

This will be a quick review for most companies because it will simply validate the selling propositions that have been effectively used in the past year. However, if results from the last year were dismal, now is the time to really re-examine your unique selling propositions. You need to absolutely define with clarity and precision the following:

♦  Features, Benefits, and Value of your products/services.
♦  What exactly is unique about your company and what you deliver to the marketplace?
♦  Why should people do business with you, versus everyone else?
♦  What’s so special about our company?

5. Sales Forecast

This will be a detailed analysis, generally broken into quarters or monthly, of the following:

♦  Total Sales Revenue
♦  Total # of New Accounts
♦  Total Revenue for New Accounts
♦  Revenue for existing accounts
♦  Profitability
♦  Any other targets?

bizpeople in huddleYour CRM system or Sales Forecast system will be loaded on a month-to-month basis with these factors. Depending on your industry, and any seasonality, you can simply target equally month-to-month or vary the targets based upon time of year.

It’s always a good idea to get the salespeople to actively contribute to this forecast, and to make sure they are absolutely in agreement with the targets. They must be committed to achieving these targets and there must be a realistic expectation that the targets can be achieved and exceeded.

6. Detailed Sales Pipeline Analysis

This is the most important element of your Sales Plan for the new year. This is the detail on exactly how you intend to achieve your goals. Take the sales objectives, analyze your pipeline and ratios, and come up with specific sales activities that are needed to accomplish your annual selling goals. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:

♦  What is your Lead Tracking System (Excel, Paper-based, automated SFA?)
♦  Total Named Prospects to Develop
♦  Total # of Opportunities in your Territory
♦  Total # of Qualified Opportunities in your assigned Industry
♦  # of Referrals from Installed Base Customers
♦  # or Leads required to feed the Sales Pipeline
♦  Where are the leads coming from? (Lead Sources report)
♦  Estimated # of Prospecting Phone Calls by rep by month
♦  Estimated # of F2F Calls needed by rep by month
♦  # of Sales Presentations needed by rep and by month

Your pipeline analysis should include Lead Sources. You should know precisely the origination point for every sale you’ve made in the past year. This will be critical information in planning where you would most productively spend your time in the remainder of the year.

When this analysis is complete, you will now know exactly the selling activities that are needed in order to achieve your targets. For instance, if your sales reps typically enjoy a 20 % close ratio for every sales presentation delivered, they will need to deliver 5 presentations to achieve one sale. All the standard selling ratios should be captured in an Excel spreadsheet and handed out to the reps. You will almost always discover that the sales team is NOT doing enough prospecting for new business!

7. Sales Process

This is a fast review of your normal sales process, fine tuning for the coming year. If it was successful in the previous year, don’t change much! If it was NOT successful, you will need man looking at mapsto change it! Along the way, you need to identify “Best Practice” sales methodologies and identify weaknesses in the process (where are sales lost?)

In addition, you might want to review your initial business development process, particularly how opportunities are qualified to begin with.

♦  Where are sales being lost? At what point in your sales process do you fail?
♦  What’s the plan to eliminate the losses?
♦  How can the process be made more efficient and effective?

8. Key Success Factors (KSFs)

This is the most important sections of the sales plan for the manager and executive because it lists the top three KSFs that, if achieved, will guarantee achievement of the plan. One of my managers used to refer to these as the “critical few” which makes allowance for the absolute importance of them.

The KSFs are developed after considering all the foregoing sections for the sales plan. Based on an analysis of the preceding sections, ask the following:

♦  What must we do to ensure success?
♦  What does top management need to do to support us?
♦  What does our company need to help us with?

9. Resource Needs

Now that your plan is complete, it’s time to spell out the resources you need to achieve success. This may include people, support, materials, logistics, management, coaching, training and so on. If you are missing a key skill or resource, this is where you would list it.

Since you’ve developed a careful and concise analysis, you will be prepared to review with management and to request critical resources and support from other departments, such as Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Customer Support. Everyone in the company should be “in the loop” with your sales plan and they should fully support it. After all, everyone sells!

10. Sales Operations Assessment

Patrick is offering complimentary 30 minutes over the phone to identify likely root causes of sales productivity issues with at least three actionable ideas.  You will discover critical problem areas, recognize underlying causes of these issues, learn at least three new ideas to implement and begin a plan of action.  To learn more, email patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure, Sr. Sales & Customer Service Consultant of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, is a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author who enjoys working with individuals and corporations to help them achieve maximum performance. He has dedicated his practice to helping others become more successful.  Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained customer service teams, salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity, and showing his audience exactly how to start winning. During his corporate career, Pat sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS, Digital Equipment and mid size companies. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives.  As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to help companies to serve and close more business.  To contact Patrick, please email him at patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

The Promise and The Pitfall Of 360-Degree Surveys

By Dana Borowka, MA

Famed management author Ken Blanchard says feedback is the breakfast of champions. Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers said listening, not imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery. Super successful CEOs like Bill Gates say we all need feedback because that is how we improve.

The natural desire to improve the performance of leaders through feedback gave rise to the popularity beginning in the 1990s of 360-degree feedback surveys. The objective of using these surveys is to create high-performing organizations by tapping into the collective feedback of many colleagues rather than just a top-down approach.

That is the promise.

But there is a danger. The amount and level of training of those providing 360-degree feedback can impact the level of accuracy of the feedback. Without guidance from a trained professional, bias may distort the value of the feedback.

And that is the pitfall. But there is a way to avoid this feedback peril.

“Naturally to some degree people are resistant to feedback,” says Tom Drucker, MA, who helps Lighthouse Consulting clients debrief 360-degree survey results. “We all have defenses against feedback, so the feedback needs to be mediated by someone who is trained to do this.”

Drucker received his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from UCLA while working with and being mentored by famed psychologists Viktor Frankl and Abraham Maslow. He went on to pursue his PhD at UCLA’s business school where he studied change management, operations research, anthropology, linguistics, and behavioral science. His unpublished dissertation focused on how leadership styles affected the success of long-term organizational change.

That varied background comes in handy when he debriefs leaders on their 360-degree survey results.

“My job has always been to talk to each person and debrief their results with them,” says Drucker. “I’m a trained clinical psychologist. I had a practice for a number of years before going into the business world.”

Also called multi-rater surveys, a 360-degree feedback is a process through which feedback is gathered from an employee’s supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues, as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves. The 360-degree survey can be contrasted with downward feedback from the boss or upward feedback delivered to managers by subordinates.

In Drucker’s view, the worst-case scenario is to just grab some 360-degree survey tool from the Internet and let the recipients interpret the feedback from the various people on their own. Just because a survey is cheap and easy does not make it the best approach.

Drucker says when successfully implemented, 360-degree feedback can be a game-changer for a business. These surveys can initiate positive changes and provide more accurate performance reviews leading to accelerated professional growth.

“When I review the results with those being assessed, I have very authentic conversations with people about their strengths,” says Drucker. “Then we talk about what is getting in their way. This leads to helpful conversations about what they should start doing, stop doing and continue doing. This is a transformative conversation for many leaders.”

This is similar to what Lighthouse Consulting Services has found to be true when we work with companies who want to improve hiring and talent development through in-depth work style and personality assessment. You can learn how your people and candidates are wired in order to hire the best and understand how to proactively manage individuals.

But to get full benefit, you need to be debriefed on the assessments by trained professionals. We assist clients by providing the leading in-depth work style and personality assessment and then utilizing our insights and assessment knowledge to best interpret the results.

Before using 360-degree surveys, some people want to know the origins of the approach. It all began around 1930 when military psychologist Johann Baptist Rieffert developed a methodology to select officer candidates for the German army. The jump to the business world occurred in the 1950s when the Esso Research and Engineering Company gathered information on employees, which arguably is the first recorded business use of the technique.

From there, the idea of 360-degree feedback gained momentum, and by the ‘90s most human resources and organizational development professionals discovered the concept. Today, studies suggest that over one-third of U.S. companies use some type of multi-source, multi-rater feedback like a 360-degree survey.

“A 360-degree survey has two parts,” says Drucker. “The first part is analytical, and examines how frequently certain behaviors occur, like leaders asking subordinates ‘how can I do my job better to support you?’”

The meat of this section of the 360-degree is getting statistically valid data on observable behaviors and the impact those behaviors have on their boss and others.

“The second part are open-ended questions, such as ‘what are the strengths of the leader?’ and ‘what are you afraid to tell the leader?’” says Drucker. “We spend a fair amount of time debriefing answers to those types of questions.”

Drucker says it is important that the feedback is anonymous.

“This is a way to see yourself as others see you, as the poet said,” notes Drucker. “Sometimes the feedback can be empowering. Other times it can be unsettling. As a clinician, I’m able to help people process the feedback even on Zoom calls.”
Without help in the debriefing, the part of the brain that produces threat responses might get triggered and derail the value of the feedback process.

“We’re all human beings, and we all have this almond-shaped gland in the brain called the amygdala, which triggers fear and can cut off any kind of logical, creative thinking,” says Drucker about the natural fight, flight or freeze response that triggers our bodies feeling anxious and afraid.

Drucker, who became a neuroscientist about 20 years ago, says the amygdala is what helped our ancestors survive in a hostile world. There are natural biochemical reactions we can thank for our being on the planet today.

“Feedback can be very upsetting which triggers a fear response in the brain,” says Drucker. “I have had clients become depressed because the information was so uniformly negative. However, 95% of all written feedback reflects the observer’s respect for the leader. Their words are intended to inspire positive change.”

Without someone to help process the information, it can be overwhelming. But it does not have to be.

Drucker began consulting after spending 15 years as a senior executive in Human Resources at Xerox Corporation. His experience at Xerox provided him with a global business perspective and refined his personal skills in leadership and management. He has developed unique methods for coaching successful leaders as they grow their organizations. He is also very proud to apply these same business tools to nonprofit organizations and community institutions like schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies.

Drucker says the 360-degree survey and professional feedback is not just for the Fortune 500 but can help organizations of all sizes.

“When professionally conducted and interpreted, the results can be significant,” says Drucker. “Without a trained professional, the value of their results is severely diminished.”  If you are open to a conversation about a 360-degree survey process or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Tom Drucker, MA is a Senior Lighthouse Consultant and works with leaders to achieve business success by leveraging the strengths of their people and overcoming the very human yet often unseen obstacles that get their way. Tom has well over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, mid caps and start ups.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication.  If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

How Safety Management Systems Can Help Any Size Company

By Chip Duffie

In the words of the famous psychologist Karl Jung, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” So, what are you doing to manage environmental, health and safety (EHS) at your company?

Most company leaders generally recognize the need to do it right. But the costs seem endless, the regulations are complicated, the processes feel disruptive, and the value seems intangible. Motivation can, unfortunately, become centered around simply “staying out of trouble.”

Good News And Reality

Let’s start with some good news. EHS programs are making a difference. Worker deaths in America are down-on average, from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 15 a day in 2019. Worker injuries and illnesses are down-from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2019.

More good news. Multiple studies, including several sanctioned by the National Safety Council, have confirmed that every $1 invested in injury prevention and safety programs return between $2 to $6.

Of course, for most companies, EHS program success is fragile, and every company has unique risk factors that are constantly evolving. There is always the risk of injuries, penalties, increased insurance premiums, and even bad press that can drive costs into your business.

The reality for every business: Managing EHS programs is a constant challenge for business leaders. Not just to stay in compliance, but to manage risk and protect the employees, all while trying to demonstrate a return on investment for the program. The fact is that companies of all size struggle to balance regulatory concerns with maximizing productivity and revenue generation.

EHS Excellence Is Not Just For The Big Companies

Perhaps surprisingly to some, implementing a safety or environmental management system (a SMS or EMS) is not reserved just for big companies. For small to mid-size businesses without robust EHS support teams, trying to manage EHS programs can be intimidating and frustrating. While no one wants to operate out of compliance or put their employees at risk, many companies feel overwhelmed and do not believe they have the aptitude or resources to follow best practices.

At the core of this motivation is the idea that EHS programs are an “add-on” or something that must be layered on top of operations. This perception often leads to compliance and safety programs being considered a impediment to progress. However, the safest and most heavily regulated brands in the world use management systems to integrate EHS requirements into operations, setting programs up designed to actually increase productivity.

11 Key Factors For Success

I believe any size company can incorporate compliant practices into their daily operations. Here are 11 key factors to a successful implementation:

1. Leadership Engagement. The single most important factor to a successful SMS/EMS and long-term cultural improvement is the engagement and support of executive leadership. If it’s important to the boss, it will be important to the staff. It’s really that simple.
2. Get Documentation In Order. Archive old policies and ensure new policies are clearly communicated to all employees. Also, make sure the policy is customized to fit your business. A generic policy may check a box, but likely does not actually help your program, especially in an emergency. A systematic review of your program documentation will clarify roles, responsibilities and risks.
3. Set an Action Cadence. Get on a repeatable, sustainable schedule of inspections, training, meetings and safety huddles that your employees understand and will come to expect. You have to be disciplined and consistent, but it will rapidly become second nature to everyone.
4. Leadership Committee Meetings.  A management system does not run itself. Executive involvement in meaningful, routine committee meetings is critical. A Management Committee sets goals, approves policies, solves problems, develops a communication plan and addresses escalated issues.
5. Identify Key Performance Metrics. The safest and most compliant brands track many key metrics related to their programs, and a company needs to set goals and targets for these metrics. Also, encourage your team to come up with additional site-specific metrics to be measured and tracked.
6. Employee Training. Make sure all employees know how do their job right. Of course, you have to meet OSHA and EPA minimum standards, but a management system does not settle for the minimum. Job specific training and apprenticeship programs are the best way to reduce injuries and ensure compliance.
7. Accountability and Recognition. A SMS or EMS is a team effort, and no one is above the requirements. There must be consequences for repeated failures and there should be a way to recognize outstanding contributions.
8. Employee Engagement. The operations staff know the actual risks of their job, so ask for their involvement and feedback and involve them in crafting solutions. A management system does not simply hand down high level policy, it is built from the ground up and gives the employees input in the process. It also allows them to take a positive messages home to their families every day.
9. Assess Risk by Job Type. A management system looks at every job and identifies the risk of noncompliance and the hazards facing employees. This is again more than checking a box, it is making sure every employee knows how to do the job right. A robust job type risk review will also give you confidence that you know how to onboard work-ready employees.
10. Leverage Leading and Lagging Indicators. Move beyond only relying on metrics that track the past, which are only looking in the rear-view mirror. Track leading metrics like training and behavior-based observations to ensure you can avoid problems before they happen.
11. Standardize Practices and PPE Across Multiple Sites. Many companies struggle with standardization, especially when it comes to job training and buying personal protective equipment (PPE) for multiple operations. Take the time and effort to get everyone on board with the management system and drive consistency across all your operations.

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards Violated

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards violated by Federal OSHA in fiscal year 2020.

1. Fall protection in construction
2. Hazard communications
3. Respiratory protection
4. Scaffolding in construction
5. Ladders in construction
6. Control of hazardous energy
7. Powered industrial trucks
8. Fall protection training requirements
9. Eye and face protection
10. Machinery and machine guarding

To search the top violations of an industry with a specific NAICS code, see https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/citedstandard.html
To search and view the industry profile for violations of any specific OSHA standard, see https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/industryprofile.html

A management system is not a short-term play, it is an investment in your brand and your people that will pay dividends for years to come and define the way you do business.

Chip Duffie is a senior Lighthouse consultant who specializes in environmental, health and safety (EHS). An environmental lawyer by trade, Chip spent his early career as assistant general counsel and chief compliance officer for Safety-Kleen, and then as SVP, compliance and sustainability for Clean Harbors. His primary job as CCO was leading an in-house team of EHS professionals responsible for the safety and compliance of North American operations. A frequent speaker on EHS, legal and risk management issues, Chip has a passion for delivering simple, affordable technology to help businesses maximize operations while staying in balance with the environment and protecting their employees. To contact Chip, call him at 469-999-2500 or email him at chip@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, x403, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com, or visit our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching, and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, and stress management. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Improving Your Odds For A Successful Manufacturing Workflow Strategy

By David Shaffer

When it comes to succeeding with manufacturing workflow, we are drowning in data but starved for wisdom.

That thought was first put forth by futurist John Naisbitt 40 years ago in his classic book Megatrends. Naisbitt the futurist was indeed a prophet.

His prophecy is true because today even with the ever-expanding use of technology, there is an overabundance of data. The challenge is to disseminate that data into information that can be acted upon to achieve the organization’s mission.

The overall mission and foundation of business today, as it was 40 years ago and undoubtedly will be true 40 years hence, is to maximize customer service. Today this is also referred to as the customer experience.

Great business thinkers like the late Peter Drucker said that without customers, there is no business. Giving the customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it is an ongoing challenge. Simply put, keeping the customer satisfied requires improved manufacturing workflow.

Because improving your manufacturing workflow is about keeping the customer satisfied, the best manufacturers are obsessed with it. These organization’s want to make themselves as easy as possible to work with from a supply chain, distribution and services standpoint. The good news is applications including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) have greatly improved manufacturing workflow.

However, almost daily you can read or hear of information systems like ERP not fulfilling manufacturing workflow expectations established at the time of acquisition. In fact, despite the most diligent efforts in defining requirements, evaluating options and selecting systems, the probability of higher-than-expected investments and system implementation issues are extremely high.

If it sounds like the odds are stacked against you, there are ways to improve your odds. ERP needs to be seen as an investment, rather than an expense, and therefore you must find ways to maximize the return on investment (ROI).

How To Improve ROI

Improving your manufacturing workplace is a bet, a gamble, a wager. Author Damon Runyon once said: “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

No business plans to lose its bet on ERP. It is fair to assume that all participants in the implementation of technology are focused upon improved manufacturing workflow results for their individual and collective departments. The aggregate of these improved results should be focused on, and result in, improved results for the company as a whole.

Specifically, a concise definition of measuring improved results as a positive gain in the implementation of technology. If there is nothing to gain then there is obviously no reason to change.

If you want the biggest gain, bet on quality. To all organizations, quality is what is expected. To that end, in the absence of standard operating procedures, the result is variation in process and by definition; variation is the enemy of quality. By determining the least wasteful method of performing a task, quality is improved, cost is reduced and on-time delivery is the final result. By performing a task the same way each time assures consistency and eliminates variation.

As workflows are identified and the standard operating procedures are put in place, the success of these procedures will be directly determined by how effective an organization is at answering the following questions:

• What are the required inputs?
• How were you trained?
• What do you do?
• How do you know your output is good?
• What feedback do you receive?
• Who are your customers?
• What keeps you from doing error-free work?
• What can be done to make your job easier?
• What would you change as the manager?

It is hopefully fair to assume that all employees want to do a good job and would rather do an activity right the first time and not be faced with rework or quality issues. Standard operating procedures, as information or product, are passed from one group to another allowing for consistency in both input and output, resulting in improved quality and happy customers. That is a winning parlay.

Those Pesky Competitors

For a significant number of businesses however, changes are dictated externally by competition, customers, and vendors and for publicly traded companies, possibly the shareholders. This external pressure, when coupled with potentially internal conflicting goals tends to increase anxiety levels and can further contribute to poor system selection and/or utilization. How often is it heard that if we don’t change we will lose? The Internet and e-commerce are recent examples of technology forcing many businesses to react.

One of the ways businesses have tried to deal with change and the expected pressures is through strategic planning. When done correctly, and shared appropriately throughout the organization, the strategic plan becomes a roadmap and a source of reference throughout the year. By establishing a Target Operating Model (TOM) that reflects the strategic plan, the selection of the appropriate ERP can be measured against its alignment with the TOM along with value derived.

Procedures And Policies Are Linked To ROI

It is assumed that the procedures and policies associated with a new system will be integrated as part of the implementation process. Vendors of technology and software will do their best to provide the appropriate operational training however are not generally in the business of assuring that the organizational infrastructure can absorb the change. That is left to the management and implementation team.

Recognizing that a new system carries risk as well as rewards, the management team is functioning under its’ own level of pressure and may not be the best in soothing the concerns, issues and change being felt by the employees. The good intentions associated with the new system may indeed be counterproductive without the corresponding balancing of the attitudes, goals, objectives and concerns of the people that comprise the organization.

Implementing The Strategy

Regardless of the status of the current information technology, that is utilizing an existing system or entering into the selection process of a new one, it is essential that the TOM and value to be derived are clearly defined. That is, just how will we as an organization measure the ERP value and, equally important, how will our customers measure us to decide if we are in fact successful in implementing our strategy. In addition to this measurement is the strategic plan. It must be reflective of where we want the business to be and how we will measure our success.

Finally, the integration of technology and infrastructure are essential to maintaining the balance of maximizing customer service. We must place equal emphasis on understanding and implementing positive attitude as we are in implementing technology.

Defining and achieving improved results is critical to the on-going success of most businesses. To invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology and systems without recognizing that tools are only as good as the operator is a formula for disappointment. It has been said that the majority.

Monitor And Communicate Progress

Many organizations struggle with the implementation of key initiatives; accountability is frequently a major stumbling block. By assigning Project Managers and the consistent use of project chartering, project plans can be well defined, resourced and monitored. The aggregate results of the charters collectively address the implementation of defined key initiatives. It is customary that on a weekly basis, each Project Manager reports the status of their charter so that combined project plans are managed by a single source. That is, for quality and consistency the overall progress of the initiatives is maintained in a central repository accessible to the entire management & leadership team.

There are many ways to distill strategic planning into execution. Chartering is a great way to focus on execution while creating accountability & buy-in throughout the process.

If you are open to a conversation about improving manufacturing workflow or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

David Shaffer, Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, is recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of management information systems solutions. His range of company support includes start up through Fortune 500.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

How to Increase Revenues With Market Research

By Henry DeVries

“As a venture capitalist, I get pitched dozens of times every year, and almost every pitch contains ‘market research’ lies,” says Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon-Valley based author, entrepreneur, and evangelist. “I am often accused of ridiculing market research and focus groups. Guilty as charged.”

Kawasaki says useful market research can help you decide what needs attention, how to select the appropriate issues, and what strategies would address the most pain points where you have the most to gain.

“My mission is to empower entrepreneurs,” says Kawasaki. “For them I advocate real-world market research, a technique practiced by Honda, Walmart, Dupont, and other successful companies that entails sending employees at every level to observe how their products or services are actually used by customers.”

Proven market research involves listening. Chris Stiehl, an independent research consultant who calls himself “The Listening Coach,” has built a career on helping companies really listen to their prospective customers, guests and clients.

“Your prospects are talking, but are you really listening?” asks Stiehl, a human-factors-engineer by training who has worked for the Cadillac division of General Motors, Cisco System, Pacific Gas & Electric, Cisco Systems, and even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Stiehl and I met when we both taught market research at the University of California San Diego, and then went on to co-author a bestselling book on market research titled Pain Killer Marketing: How To Turn Customer Pain Into Market Gain.

“At Cadillac, we spent about $20,000 on a Voice of the Customer project that saved the company $3 million per year going forward,” says Stiehl, who notes that a lack of listening is not just a North American problem. “We have conducted listening research in India, China, Brazil, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Switzerland, as well as Canada and the United States.”

During the journey, Stiehl and I have identified several myths that are holding companies back.

The Eight Great Myths Of Market Research

Myth # 1: Focus Groups Are The Best Way To Listen. I say down with focus groups, and I have been a focus group facilitator. Focus groups rank as the number one waste of marketing research dollars.

Myth #2: Marketing Research Is Prohibitively Expensive For Most Companies. Many people think marketing research projects cost $25,000 to $50,000, but that is not true. Typically, a small to medium sized company may invest $6,000 to $12,000 in a solid market research study. If the prospect is harder to reach, such as doctors, the price goes up. As Barack Obama said on Twitter in 2013: “If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.”

Myth #3: You Cannot Know The Mind Of Customers And Clients. The reality is just the opposite. You must ask and then really listen. If you want to know what customers and clients think, go have conversations with them.

Myth #4: You Need To Survey Hundreds Or Thousands To Really Know. What you really need to do is talk, not survey. A dozen one-on-one interviews will generate as many customer pain points as seven focus groups. The problem with low-cost online surveys is that results are skewed. Surveys have their place, but they must be formulated by listening to interviewees first.

Myth #5: You Have To See People Face-To-Face. In this time of pandemic, the last think you or the interviewee want is to be face to face. Reach out and touch people by phone or by Zoom. Also, these one-on-one interviews by phone or Zoom can be conducted with people in different time zones, something difficult to achieve with focus groups.

Myth #6: Interviews Cannot Go Deep. Actually, interviews allow you to probe. The depth of information obtained for each topic is actually greater in one-on-ones as well, since the moderator or facilitator does not feel the pressure to cover every topic.

Myth #7: The Key Is To find Out How The Customer Or Client Will Gain From Your Product Or Service. Actually, you want to find the pain. Pain beats gain every time. Psychologists and sociologists have repeatedly found that consumers are more motivated to avoid pain than to seek pleasure.

Myth #8: Market Research Is Above Company Politics. Sadly, this is not the case. When it comes to market research you need to skip the politicking. How does a company decide which pain points to address? In most cases, the decisions are political, based upon who claims the loudest.

During conversations with a prospect the goal should be to monopolize the listening. A good rule of thumb is to listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent.

These are the three proven steps for success Stiehl and I have used when it comes to listening carefully and responding appropriately:

Identify the issue. What is on their mind? What is their goal, what assets do they have in place, and what are their roadblocks? Ask questions to find out and listen carefully.

Listen for the prospect’s mindset. This is not about good and bad people; actually, this is about how they view the world at this point in time. Are they a thinker, a doer, a struggler, or an achiever? How do they view similar products or services. Again, ask questions and listen carefully.

Respond in a way that meets what that person wants and needs. To respond appropriately requires matching your language to the mindset of the prospect. Say the appropriate words that the thinker, doer, struggler, or achiever needs to hear. Great market research can help you target the correct messages in your marketing customer service.

Active listening is the skill needed to execute this type of questioning. Active listening involves participating with the customer in the interview. When you have heard them, you must summarize what you have heard to make sure you have heard correctly.

As Tom Peters described in his book Thriving On Chaos, “Listening to customers must become everybody’s business. With most competitors moving ever faster, the race will go to those who listen (and respond) most intently.”

Pain Into Gain Market Research Riddle

Your target prospects experience their own unique frustrations and pains. As the old adage states, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Truly identifying your prospect’s predicament tells them that you understand and empathize with them.

How will prospects hire you unless they trust you?
How, in turn, will they trust ideas they have not heard?
How, in turn, will they hear without someone to speak?
How, in turn, will you speak unless you have a solution?
How, in turn, will you have a solution unless you understand their pain?
How will you understand their pain unless you listen carefully?
How will you prove you listened unless you respond appropriately?

When you have conversations with prospects, here are ten starter market research questions you might work into the conversation:

1. Can you describe for me the “ideal” experience with a ____________ (your product or service). How do most compare to this ideal?
2. Can you describe for me a recent time that the experience was less than ideal?
3. What are the three most important aspects of doing business with a___________?
4. If I said a __________ was a good value, what would that mean to you?
5. In what ways does dealing with a _________ cost you besides money (time, hassle, effort, etc.)?
6. What is the biggest pain about working with a _________?
7. Would you recommend a _________ to a friend or colleague? Why, or why not?
8. How does working with a _________ help you save money?
9. What does a _________ do really well?
10. If you had the opportunity to work with a ________ again, would you? Why, or why not?

The magic phrase during in-depth listening sessions is this: “Tell me more.”

The Bottom Line

Finally, all of the internal and external data is combined to direct improvement to the places that can have the maximum impact on the customer relationship—in other words, where you achieve the “biggest bang for the buck.” (Note: This process is often called the House of Quality; see the May-June 1988 edition of the Harvard Business Review).

Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC offers custom market research specializing in understanding customer wants, needs and requirements. We have designed and implemented one-on-one in-depth research studies, surveys and quantitative studies across a similar range of internal (employees) and external (customers) audiences. And sometimes we even conduct focus groups.

These market research services can be parlayed with the other offerings from Lighthouse Consulting Business Practices Division such as talent development, in-depth work style and personality assessments, team building, sales & customer service training & workshops, presentation skills, cyber security, manufacturing workflow, IT strategies, ERP selection and CFO/COO best practices and planning. If you are open to a conversation about this, we are ready to listen to what you have to say.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Henry DeVries is a market research consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services Business Consulting Division as well as an author and educator. He is the author of 14 books on marketing and writes a weekly marketing column for forbes.com. Henry has a 30-year successful track record of market research projects including business forecasting, in-depth interviews, focus group facilitation and surveys for clients such as Marriott Corporation, San Diego Padres, Foresters, The Fieldstone Company, and the University of California San Diego. Previously he was director of research and president of an Ad Age 500 advertising agency where he doubled billings from $5 million to $10 million in five years. He also served as the chief marketing officer (assistant dean) and marketing faculty member for the University of California San Diego continuing education program, where he helped raise annual non-state (private) revenues from $22 million to $45 million in seven years. On a personal note, he almost won $13,000 on the TV game show Jeopardy!, but did manage to snag $13,000 on Family Feud.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Hire Right The First Time, Part 2

By Dana Borowka, MA

Is your company still hiring employees using the same process it did five years ago? Think carefully about the question for a moment. Is the company recruiting, screening, interviewing, and verifying using the same techniques and procedures as in the past?

Next question. Do you wonder why so many of your new hires don’t remain in their jobs over six months, or why other companies seem to attract and keep solid employees, but not your company?

It is time for every company to re-examine their hiring practices, or risk falling behind in the race to win great talent.

In Part One (see Hire Right the First Time (https://lighthouseconsulting.com/hire-right-first-time/) . . . I explored the new rules of recruitment and the necessity of in-depth work style and personality assessments.

In this, Part Two, I look at interviewing, background checks, and skills testing. Combined, these practices must form the pillars of a modern-day hiring procedure for companies and organizations of all sizes.

1. Recruitment
2. Interviewing
3. Background Checks
4. In-depth Assessments of Skills and Work Style

Why Change the Hiring Procedure?

In Part One I opened by stating that a wrong hiring decision costs a company 2-3 times the employee’s annual salary. That hurts no matter if it’s an entry-level position or a top executive. Cost is reason enough to change how talent is recruited and hired. But, there’s even more justification for change.

The success of the entire organization is at stake. A company is only as good as the combined ability of its employees to meet customer expectations and outperform the competition. Good employees matter, but therein lies the problem.

Good employees are rare today no matter the industry. (For simplicity sake let’s define “good” as those people with the right skills and right work style personality to perform their given duties with excellence over time). The demand for good employees is higher than ever. The supply is lower than ever. A company has to work differently today to find prospective employees and then identify the “good” ones – those that have the right work style personality and skills to do the job well within the company’s culture.

A Recruiter’s Advice

One area for improvement is how we find and recruit prospective employees. I mentioned in Part One some considerations for a modern-day recruitment effort. To this I’ll add a note about using an executive search firm. Companies frequently make two mistakes in this area. According to Barry Deutsch, Founder of Impact Hiring Solutions (http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com/) and co-author of “You’re Not the Person I Hired”, companies too often use search firms before they must, and they tend to hire a recruiter based only on industry focus.

“Working your network to seek referrals is the absolute first place a company should look when attempting to find candidates for a key role in the company,” Deutsch advises. “Only after shaking the trees should you consider investing in an executive search firm.”

Once a decision is made to use a recruiter, avoid the temptation to think that only those with prior experience in your field can be successful. As Deutsch explains, “Just because a recruiter spent years as an electrical engineering manager, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring you the best engineering candidates.” Having a network within a specialty or industry is helpful, but just knowing who to call isn’t the biggest value a recruiter brings to the table. “Effective recruiters earn their fees by being adept at convincing people who already have a good job to consider leaving it for another better opportunity,” Deutsch said. “Ninety percent of managerial and executive positions are filled by people who were already employed and not actively thinking about making a switch.”

Learn the Right Way to Interview

The interview process in most companies is woefully ineffective, according to Deutsch, and is largely to blame for poor hiring decisions. “Companies aren’t investing enough time in preparing for the interview,” he said. He advises his clients to first set the right expectations for the job and make everyone involved in the interview aware of the job’s expectations. “This goes hand in hand with a detailed job description. What is the position expected to know and to accomplish, and by when?”

Once the expectations are documented, map a list of questions to those expectations. “Stop asking the standard, stupid 20 questions. Get strategic with your questions so you receive pointed, meaningful answers,” Deutsch advises. “If you do this important step, you will move closer to hiring the best candidate not the candidate who interviews best.”

Validate Resume and Interview Answers

The next steps in the hiring process will be new to many companies, but a mandatory addition if the organization hopes to achieve a higher level of hiring success. The steps involve Background Checks, Skill Testing, and In-Depth Work Style and Personality Testing.

An article in Inc. Magazine quoted a HireRight 2017 employment screening benchmark report that claimed 85% of employers caught applicants fibbing on their resumes. According to Gordon Basichis, Co-Founder of Corra Group (http://www.corragroup.com/), criminal record and education deception are the most common “surprises” uncovered by Background Checks. The potential hidden liability for the employer is obvious.

Basichis explains that the most common mistake by employers is not going far enough with a background check simply because they are not aware of the types of background checks and in which cases they should be conducted.

1. Employment verification. A leading point of inconsistency.
2. Education verification. Another area of high discrepancy.
3. Social Security Trace. Traces where someone has lived the past seven years.
4. County Civil and Criminal Records. These tend to be the most accurate, but it’s important to know where the candidate has lived so all the counties can be searched.
5. Federal Criminal and Federal Civil Records. Typically, these checks are for employees involved with government contracts, financial positions, or high-level executives.
6. Terror Watch List.

Basichis urges companies to follow the advice of an HR specialist and employment attorney when setting policies for background checks. There are numerous regulations and guidelines at the Federal, State and City levels which must be followed regarding how Background Checks can be conducted and used in the hiring process.

Okay, the candidate aced the well-prepared interview questions, passed the background check with flying colors. Do you extend an offer? Not so fast.

Verifying Skills

The candidate may have said all the right things, but do they really have the skills required for the job? Testing is the only way to verify if the person can do the job as expected. Fortunately, online skills tests exist for hundreds of common jobs from Accounting to Manufacturing to Software Programming.

There simply isn’t an excuse today for hiring someone ill-suited for a job. Candidates can be given a 15-30 minute online skills test in your office and the results are known immediately.

Last year Lighthouse Consulting began offering its clients a catalog of some 200 Skills Tests (https://lighthouseconsulting.com/talent-development/skills-testing/) in 16 job categories. These pay-on-demand tests cost $22.50 to $100 – a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of training or re-hiring.

Identifying the Work Style Personality

Great, the skills test was successful, the background checked out, and the interview questions were answered to your satisfaction. NOW can you make the offer? Better not. You may know a lot about this candidate, but you don’t know how they work, or how they work with others. That’s where in-depth workstyle and personality assessments (https://lighthouseconsulting.com/assessment-tests/) play an invaluable role in hiring, promoting and team formation.

I went into detail about in-depth work style and personality assessments in Part One (https://lighthouseconsulting.com/hire-right-first-time/) of this article, so I’ll recap the key point here. If you aren’t conducting this type of assessment, start doing so immediately. If you are using a tool with only four primary scales (5-10 minute assessment) it might work as a very basic screener but is too superficial to reveal insightful behavioral information about the candidate. In fact, some companies have learned to not even bother with these simplistic profiles. They prefer to give final candidates an in-depth assessment (minimum 164 questions).

As a manager you know all too well the importance of knowing an employee’s work style and how they will interact (or not) with others. Only in-depth assessments based on 16 levels (we call them “scales”) gives you a true picture of the individual on which a hiring decision can be based.

The Pillars of Hiring Success

In conclusion, the structure for achieving hiring success at 80% or better consists of four pillars.

1. Recruitment
2. Interviewing
3. Background Checks
4. Work Style Personality and Skill Assessments

LCS and our partners stand ready to quickly help you put into place the training, tools, and procedures necessary to build a highly effective and competitive organization through better hiring. Reach out to me any time to get started. danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.