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.

Checklist To Create A Hybrid Work Environment Culture

By Patty Crabtree

“I just want everyone back at the office and let’s just get back to normal,” many a business leader has said.

But let’s face facts: the old ways of business will never really happen again. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

During the pandemic businesses have been exposed to the possibilities of remote work. Many workers found it to be liberating as they were no longer tied to that commute or the rigid nine-to-five schedule. Now that we have seen what is possible, how can we capitalize on it and develop that world class service?

Here is a surprising statistic: If given the choice between a $30,000 raise or permanently working from home, employees at some of the biggest companies said they would choose the latter. LinkedIn News, citing a survey by professional network Blind, reports 64% of respondents would forgo the extra cash for the remote work benefits. About 67% of Google respondents preferred permanent work-from-home, as well as 64% of Amazon, 62% of Microsoft, 69% of Apple, 76% of Salesforce and 47% of JPMorgan Chase employees.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Chelsea Jay-Wiltse, a career coach at Intelligent.com. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for many professionals to reset and rediscover their priorities. Most professionals found working from home provided a better work/life balance, more time with family and friends, and decreased stress levels. Utilizing technology to its fullest extent is the way of the future.”

She offers this prediction: “More employers will need to offer flexible scheduling and remote work options to remain competitive when it comes to attracting talented professionals.”

However, the message we keep hearing at Lighthouse Consulting is businesses want to return to normal, all the peas back in the pod. We are not a fan of this word normal. This word gets thrown around every time something pushes us outside our comfort zone as people crave the known and are afraid of the unknown.

Normal is such a disempowering word. It takes away from the opportunity and encourages things to go to back the same. But a return to normal is just an illusion as our world has changed. With all the opportunities that have occurred, why would someone want to go back to the way things were when there is a possibility of something better?

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà vu is the feeling you have experience something before. For me, I faced this dilemma many years ago as my company faced a staffing crisis. As a small company, our solution was to start building a remote workforce. Through trial and error, we developed a high performing and successful workforce that cultivated a high retention rate of both clients and staff. Our culture of innovation thrived, and collaboration was strong. As profitability increased year over year, we had proof this concept worked.

As more people are vaccinated and the infection rate is decreasing, the talk is about moving back into the office toward that normal. Many leaders are inferring they will demand everyone return to the office while employees are wanting options. Some want to be able to work remotely a few days a week. Others want to work remotely full time.

Managing A Hybrid Workforce Takes Focus

So, how do you balance this desire for a hybrid-work-environment so it supports everyone’s desires?

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. One word I like to use here is intentional. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider as you plan for continuing a hybrid or remote workforce:

  • Culture. How has your culture evolved during this time and how does it need to further evolve to support a hybrid or remote workforce? Do your current core values fit this new environment? Is a fine tuning needed?
  • Communication. Have you established a formal communication plan to ensure all messaging is heard by staff? This would include the types of events that can occur throughout the month, who should be included in the communication and what method the communication is expressed.
  • Strategy. How have your leaders ensured a focus on both short-term and long-term strategy? What is the long-term vision and plan for the company while embracing a hybrid or fully remote work environment?
  • Management. What training has been provided to managers to ensure they effectively supervise the hybrid or remote workers and maintain a high level of productivity and staff retention?
  • Customer Service. How has customer service evolved? Has this been an intentional practice or in the moment solution?
  • Collaboration. How have you encouraged collaboration in a hybrid or fully remote environment? What tools have been put in place to ensure collaboration continues to thrive?
  • Team Building. What hybrid team building activities have been established? Are they scheduled on a regular basis?
  • Training. How has ongoing training evolved to support a hybrid or remote workforce?
  • Flexibility. Is that nine-to-five work environment really the only effective way for your staff to be successful? Is there an opportunity to provide flexible schedules that support company needs along with a healthy work-life balance for your employees?
  • Meetings. What tools have been put in place to facilitate effective meeting and encourage a healthy dialogue?
  • Recognition/Engagement. How has your recognition program evolved to be inclusive of both office and remote workers? What is your engagement plan?
  • Interviewing. What practices have been put in place to support effective remote hiring?
  • Onboarding. Do you have an effective plan to onboard new hires both in the office and remote workers? Does you plan include team building and culture activities?

“The pandemic lockdown only accelerated the work-from-home trend,” says Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant at digital.com. “In a digital age, commuting is a waste of time for many professions. If you work in retail or construction, then sure, you need to show up to do the work. If facetime is important to company culture, then businesses should consider rotating schedules where staff visits home base once a week. The key is in measuring the value that people provide, rather than the hours they work.”

Consorte says this mindset eliminates concerns over employees who work fewer hours than their peers, because it’s the value they produce that matters, regardless of how long it takes. “Work-from-home rewards workers with hundreds of more hours of personal time each year, making for a better work-life balance, and happier employees produce better results,” he adds.

Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes building a new muscle. A muscle of enhanced communication, unique team building approaches, leaders driving the conversation and showing the way with a new focus and creating an offering that is attractive to existing and potential employees along with ensuring your customers continue to feel valued.

This is like any new strategic initiative. Being strategic takes planning, focus, communication and accountability to implement and thrive.

If you are open to a conversation about any of these aspects of creating a hybrid work environment culture, please call or email and we will set up a time to talk.

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. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@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.

If you are open to a conversation about 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.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication or to order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. 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.

Five Biggest Mis-Hiring Mistakes

By Dana Borowka, MA

Ready. Aim. Mis-hire.

Unfortunately, that is a common problem for many companies. That mis-hire can have a big negative impact on your company’s bottom line. Worse, it could hurt work force morale.

Each mis-hire decision can cost your company well over two to three times the individual’s salary, according to author Barry Deutsch of Impact Hiring Solutions. This figure may be a conservative estimate because of factors like training, evaluation, termination, re-initiating the hiring process, and lost opportunity costs.

There is also an emotional factor involved in a mis-hire. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes away focus from your company’s primary goals.

According to research by Deutsch, co-author of the best-selling book You’re Not The Person I Hired, here are the five biggest mis-hiring mistakes to avoid:

Mis-Hiring Mistake #1. Not taking the time to define success. Not defining success up front is almost a guarantee of a mis-hire. Defining success is the number one issue behind problems with hiring, performance management, and engagement. Defining success up front dictates where you go to find the candidate, it provides 80 percent of your interview questions, and it lays out performance expectations that you can use in interviewing.

Mis-Hiring Mistake #2. No formal hiring process. If there is one key to overcoming most of the mis-hiring mistakes that managers make, it is by developing a rigorous and disciplined hiring process. This kind of process has two major components: a detailed step-by-step process, and written forms and questions prepared in advance. Although each hiring experience may have its unique aspects, most follow a consistent process. Best-practice information on hiring found in many books and websites can form the basis of your step-by-step process. But once you settle on a process after trial-and-error, it needs to be written down in the form of a checklist or procedure so that each hire follows a complete course of action.

Mis-Hiring Mistake #3. Not shaking the bushes hard enough to uncover the best candidates. Most companies post generic job descriptions on generic job boards and pray the best person drops into their lap. Sometimes, you might do a little superficial networking. The tactic of posting the job usually brings the bottom third of the candidate pool to your doorstep – all the worse candidates. Sometimes you get lucky. There is an old adage that goes: “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes.” It’s tough to build high performing teams based on luck and hope. Running generic ads on generic job boards shows up a small microcosm of the candidate pool – those who are unemployed, or desperate to leave their current organization. If you want to fill your funnel with outstanding talent, you have to work at compelling the best to come forward by writing compelling marketing statements to replace the disgusting use of job descriptions, networking, referrals, and direct sourcing using tools like LinkedIn.

Mis-Hiring Mistake #4. Ignoring character and values. Have you heard the expression, “People are usually hired for experience and fired for character.” With today’s emphasis on resume screening and superficial interviews, about the only information a hiring supervisor can glean from a candidate are the facts of past experience and skills. Talent, skills and experience are important, but after the hiring is done, real people show up with their own values, morals, and motivations.

Mis-Hiring Mistake #5. Failing to use in-depth work style and personality assessment. You must have an interview process designed to validate, verify, and vet whether the candidate can achieve your desired results, and whether they will be a good fit for your culture and values. That includes assessments. As with any business decision, having the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can provide insight into potential hires, as well as your current workforce, in three main ways:

1. Identify potential red flags. A personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the interviewing process and can quantify an intuition or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. It can be used to identify potential red flags concerning behavioral issues, help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance and compare interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments and candidates.

2. Learn how to optimize employees’ work performance. A personality assessment can provide extensive information on an individual’s ability to work with their job responsibilities, team dynamics and company culture. Additionally, the assessment can show effective strategies to gain optimal performance from that individual within their particular work environment. It can also be employed to quickly identify the most effective management style for a new employee or predict how team members are likely to interact.

3. Ensure you have the right people in the right positions: Additionally, personality assessments can be utilized in rehires, or situations which call for employees to re-apply for their current jobs, as in the case of a corporate merger or restructuring. A personality assessment can also ensure that your company continues to have the right people in the right positions and distribute assets and talents effectively.

Legal Guidelines For Assessing Recruits

A frequent question from companies and organizations concerns the legal guidelines in administering assessments to potential employees. Industry regulations can vary and the best option is to consult with your company’s trade association along with reading through the EEOC guidelines by visiting Additional information can be found online at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/guidance-inquiries.html#2. The EEOC is the end all of end-alls. So, no matter what people say, always go by what the EEOC has outlined.

As a general rule if your company uses an assessment, any test or set of hiring questions must be administered to all of the final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not present.

The Bottom Line

An in-depth work style and personality assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. It can provide valuable information for critical personnel decisions. Combined with an effective recruitment program and skilled interview techniques, it can benefit your company as a whole, in addition to your individual employees. Armed with accurate and quantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. Ultimately, this only adds to your organization’s bottom line, allowing more effective management of your existing workforce and limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions.

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 are open to a conversation about 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

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.

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.

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.

 

Time To Leverage Your Staff For Higher Productivity

By Doug Clute

In his business classic Good to Great, Jim Collins said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Famously Collins says you need to have the right people in the right seats on your bus.

In business, profits and shareholder returns can be linked to productivity growth, which can be directly linked to having great people. Productivity measures output per unit of input, such as labor, capital or any other resource – and is typically calculated for the economy as a whole, as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to hours worked. Labor productivity may be further broken down by sector to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

A staffing plan makes sure you have the right people in the right spots at the right time.

A Staffing Plan Fit For A King

Have you ever tasted Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread?

The bakery that created this treat was founded in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii and later became known as King’s Hawaiian. In 1977 the company expanded and built its first mainland bakery in Torrance, California. Its vision was to become the biggest Hawaiian food company in the world.

To support their continued growth, in 2010 their strategy included building a new production facility. To better serve the East Coast they started construction on a third bakery facility in Oakwood, Georgia. This was a project that was estimated to take at least one year to complete. Initial staffing of the new facility would require hiring over one hundred new employees.

Well before construction began, a staffing plan was developed and implemented. The plan included headcount, timing, skills needed, and training required for each position.

Success was dependent on a lot of hard work by great people. Internal partnerships between operations and human resources, as well as relationships with local agencies and recruiting partners were key to its success.

The plant opened on schedule and within budget. Since then, the plant has been expanded several times and each time a staffing plan was one of the keys to success.

Staffing Linked To Productivity

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a company’s production process, This is calculated by measuring the number of units produced relative to employee labor hours or by measuring a company’s net sales relative to employee labor hours.

Most successful organizations have a strong understanding of their strategic direction. Mission and vision statements communicate who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Operational plans and budgets that lay out the organization’s periodic goals, objectives, and projects that are in support of the mission and vision.

But will they achieve the mission and vision without the right people? Even with a clear mission and vision, without the talent required to support this direction, organizations are unlikely to reach their full potential. Management journals contain many studies that have found that companies incorporating a staffing plan into their business are more likely to increase performance.

For many organizations – especially one that is growing quickly – the focus is often on things like improving or expanding products and services; increasing revenue; and acquiring new customers. These are the lifeblood of a successful growing business. However, if the workforce needed to support this growth is more of an afterthought, it can slow that growth and even jeopardize servicing existing customers.

The Six Steps Of Staff Planning

There are six steps included in the staff planning process: establishing goals, identifying influencers, surveying the current state, envisioning needs, conducting a gap analysis, and developing and executing a plan. Let’s examine each step:

One: Establishing Goals. This step should largely be completed through the operational planning process mentioned above. Having an accurate understanding of the periodic goals, objectives and projects the organization anticipates completing in the planning cycle is the foundation of successful staff planning.

Two: Identifying Influencers. What factors might influence the staffing plan? Influencers can be external or internal. They can be positive or negative. An influencer is anything that might affect the plan but is largely uncontrollable by the organization. This step can be completed with a brainstorming session to identify factors that need to be considered. What is the status of the local labor market? Are there any technology changes that will impact productivity? Are local competitors growing or laying off staff? Are there any facility constraints such as office space limitations?

Three: Surveying the Current State. What is the state of the organization’s current staff? What expertise does each staff member have? Are there employees who are likely to leave for personal reasons or retirement? What employees are likely to be promoted into different roles? Are there poor performers who may need to improve or be replaced? While this step includes a listing of headcount, the main objective is to create an inventory of skill sets, competencies, and availability of the current staff.

Four: Envisioning Future Needs. To reach the organizational goals and complete the projects identified in step one, what skills, competencies, and staffing will be required? It is best to complete this step with the mindset of building the staff from scratch. This will help identify requirements without being overly influenced by the current state. Will the goals and projects require new competencies? Will additional staff be needed? Will staffing need to change during the year? Would using contractors or outside expertise be a good fit to meet short term needs?

Five: Conducting a Gap Analysis. What is missing between the current state and projected needs to accomplish the organization’s goals? Is additional training needed? What would be the timing of any new training? Do you need to add staff? In what positions, when will they be needed, how long will it take to recruit and onboard? Are current staff in the correct roles, or would reassignment make better use of their skills.

Six: Developing and Implementing the Plan. With the insight and information developed through this process the organization can now build a plan to successfully support their goals and projects. Planning for needed training, recruitment of staff additions and backfilling departures, use of outside expertise, etc. This plan will include actions as well as timing. The ultimate impact the plan has on the organization is dependent on an effective implementation and follow up. Committing to periodic updates and review will keep the plan on pace.

Let The Process Flow

This overview references six separate steps in the process. In concept the process follows the logical thought flow. However, in practice steps may overlap. The staff planning process can include as few or as many individuals as needed. Staffing plans can be created in any format that is comfortable to the organization. What is important is that the plan includes the relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and actionable.

Here is a thought to guide the plan. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy of General Electric: “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The right staffing plan improves the odds of succeeding on the bets you make on your people.

If you are open to a conversation about staffing planning and how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Doug Clute is a Senior Human Capital LCS Consultant with over 30 years of insight and expertise as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

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

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.

Establishing Great Mentoring Partnerships

By Tenny Mickey, PhD

It has been proven that people in organizations who are receptive to positive mentoring enhance their performance faster, enjoy more positive exposure, and appear to enjoy their work better than those who are not. Effective mentors also derive great pleasure from supporting others as they advance their careers. A relationship built on trust and respect creates a secure and safe environment for mentoring to take place. It is often confounding when thinking about why more people are not involved actively in mentoring relationships. I will discuss some of the challenges related to developing and sustaining a positive mentoring relationship in this article. Also, I believe that mentoring between two people must be a partnership. In this article, I will make references to the terms “mentor”, ” person being mentored”, and “mentoring partnership.”

First, I believe a mentor is someone who has a deeper level of experience in organizations. By this definition, the critical factor is the experience the mentor enjoys in a specific area. Many people make the mistake of believing a mentor must necessarily be older with many years of experience. I have found many people who have developed specific levels of expertise early in their careers are equally experienced. Some early career mentors have displayed a knack for a specific skill, an interest, and has taken the opportunity to deepen their skills in a specific professional area. So, let’s be more open as to whom will be the best mentor for specific needs and interests. As seen with the ubiquitous opportunities to upskill through technology usage, one’s skill-set is not necessarily a function of one’s age or interest in mentoring others.

An important behavior for a mentor is the willingness to share knowledge and experiences in a manner that supports the growth aspirations of the person being mentored. A mentor is super interested in the success of the person they are mentoring. The mentor must be experienced enough to help the person being mentored clarify their interests, set goals, and develop a process to achieve those goals. A mentor should also have a greater sense of how their experience and your goals will impact future organizational decisions. Throughout the mentoring partnership, the mentor should have broad enough experiences to support the person being mentored as they work through challenges that will no-doubt emerge as their knowledge increases and roles advance.

The mentor’s responsibility is to create a relationship that gives room and space for the person being mentored to learn. A common mistake occurs when people believe mentoring is about teaching how things should be done. Successful mentors rely upon their effective listening skills as indicative of their respect, caring for, and a genuine interest in the other person… the building blocks of trust.

The above foundational pointers suggest that the mentor and person they are mentoring should establish the ground rules for the mentoring partnership at the very beginning. Together, they must decide if the relationship will have a formal arrangement, an informal one, or a combination of these two. The mentoring partners should also discuss what each believes will describe an effective and comfortable mentoring partnership. They should be clear on the amount of time each person will be able to commit to the relationship. By having this conversation first, each partner in the relationship will gain a sense of the other’s needs and expectations. With this understanding, each partner will be able to have meaningful conversations when the relationship is not going as expected.

SUCCESSFUL MENTORING

Successful mentors must realize that mentorship is all about meeting the person they are mentoring where they are…currently. It is a key factor that the mentor should listen fully …question deeply… solve at the root! This means mentors should focus on the critical areas of the problem expressed by the person being mentored. One can only do this by listening fully. When questioning, it is important to realize that the mentor’s interest is not always the optimal solution to the problem. It is often sufficient to make sure the person being mentored is focused on the right problem to solve. Also, is this the right priority on which to focus at this time? Often asking questions will yield new processes to use when examining new problems. Effective questioning also allows the mentor to tell stories of how situations of this type have occurred and been solved in their career.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of “SOLUTIONEERING.” Mentors have many points of experience to rely upon when helping their mentoring partners find solutions. It is often tempting to provide a ready solution that is based upon the mentor’s experiences. Great mentoring however suggests that the person being mentored will “learn how to fish” when working with their mentor. Mentors are best when they share anecdotes that mirror the person being mentored experiences. In this manner, the information is more likely to be remembered and applied more appropriately in the situation being discussed. This will also encourage the formation of broad principles that might govern future situations. It is very important in the partnership that sharing information is equal. This is helpful for the mentor to listen more than telling. For the person being mentored, this can create psychological safety in that they feel equally able to express challenges and propose solutions.

Mentors also validate and allow their partners to gain confidence in their ability to make decisions. This is sometimes achieved by feeding back, and sometimes expanding on, what the mentor has heard the person being mentored say. Sometimes people have a great hunch about the right solution, but when hearing it being rephrased by their mentor, clarity and confidence increase. This method also allows the mentor to provide a framework that helps to organize thinking, develop future processes, and build increasing confidence in how they approach solutions.

FEEDBACK

Effective feedback is a vital aspect of the mentoring partnership. How feedback is provided and received is extremely important. There are several factors to keep in mind when giving or receiving feedback. The following checklist helps members of the mentoring partnership keep this in mind:

• Always have the best interest of the mentoring partnership outcomes in mind
• Always balance improvement needs and positive feedback
• Observe each other’s thoughts and reactions with positive interest and curiosity
• Focus on facts and behaviors rather than emotions and personal attributes
• Acknowledge and summarize each other’s contributions when responding
• Provide feedback in a supportive way
• Strike a balance between being too friendly and too formal
• Ask probing questions to learn deeply and to stimulate alternative thinking processes

EMPATHY

Empathy is a key element in the mentoring partnership. As mentors question deeply and listen intently, they should focus on a deeper understanding of the obstacles. More importantly, when “drilling down” is the ability to display empathy. The questions should be balanced to (1) provide insights about the situation but with the realization of (2) how the other person in the partnership is experiencing the situation. This is a good practice to adopt when dealing not only in the mentoring partnership but also in other situations at work. It is important for the mentor and the person being mentored to experience and share the value of empathy.

QUESTIONS

A mentor should ask questions that are stimulating, meaningful, and impactful. Marshall Goldsmith, the coaches coach, always suggests that mentors start with the end in mind. The mentor is then able to focus on the “ask” and thereby guide the coaching relationship with the end-point in mind.

Another great question is to ask “what is it that you need right now?“ This helps you understand how you might be most supportive. It’s so easy to jump into giving advice based on your experiences. Is that what the person being mentored needs? Do they want your advice? Do they need an advocate? Or do they need just a “…you got this!!”

Discourage people in your mentoring partnership from asking solicitous questions. Often, the person being mentored becomes vulnerable and chooses to show others their capabilities. Don’t bite…rather, encourage them to come up with tougher questions. They are not in this relationship to charm their mentor, but rather to become vulnerable, share, learn, and grow.

Many people in mentoring partnerships will focus on their career advancement. It is important to understand what is driving this interest. Is it a passing fantasy…something that feels exciting at the moment? Is it something they are thinking about as a career end-point? Is it a way of seeking personal prominence among their workmates? Is it a career choice that feels prestigious or profitable? This is a very important place in which a mentor can help them “dial it back” by plotting the path carefully that will yield longer-term satisfaction.

Asking about taking personal time for reflection and rest is another important element of mentoring. It is important to know that personal balance is very important for success in all aspects of life and work. Many people being mentored believe it is more important to deliver an energetic appearance as a reflection of their strong work capabilities. It is key to practice and to emphasize that rest and reflection are also key factors. Your first job should be as much about you proving yourself as about you understanding yourself, getting a better idea of your strengths and how you can prove yourself in an arena that you love later on.”

It is essential that the mentee and the mentor mutually agree that the content of their discussions will be kept confidential. This will enable the person to be mentored to explore preliminary ideas before sharing them with a wider audience. It is also helpful when expressing doubts and reservations without having to be afraid of any consequences in other situations.

Lastly, it is critical to evaluate the progress of the mentoring partnership as the most important aspect of each meeting. This information gained will be useful in honing the effectiveness of the partnership.

Establish Great MENTORING PARTNERSHIPS!!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Tenny Mickey, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC. As a Leadership & Organizational Psychologist, & Executive Coach, Tenny helps LEADERS improve their effectiveness. She relies upon her successful work as an officer in 3 Fortune 50 organizations (News Corporation, Disney, and Compaq) & 16 years of effective Organizational & Leadership Consulting. Additionally, each of her academic achievements, ranging from ( a Historical Black College & University) Huston-Tillotson University (BA), (Ivy League) Harvard University (EdM), and (Professional Psychology) Fielding Graduate University (M.A. & PhD) has contributed to the knowledge, respect & understanding she relies upon to support individual success. She is further stimulated and inspired to gain “new knowledge” each day. Feel free to contact Tenny through tennym@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.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style 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 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.

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.

Finding Inspiration During Tough Times

By Dana D. Borowka, MA & Ellen W. Borowka, MA

It’s so easy to get caught up with the news, lack of business, cash flow forecasting, etc. So, we are at a crossroads… do we sit down and ruminate about the dire situation we find ourselves in? Or do we rise higher… together to find answers and inspiration – not only to help our own families, companies, communities but also our nation, our world. This is a unique time where we all are facing the same situation… across the globe. We are all in the same boat. Though for some people… this will hit harder than for others. What do we do? Where do we go? Moving forward also means learning from others. We recently did a Covid-19 poll with our clients and we share those insights as well as some ideas for finding our way during this difficult time.

Moving Forward with Fear

Stewart Emory once said, “The absence of fear is not an option that is available to most people. People are looking for that, but that is just not an option. The difference between people who are really making it in the world and the people who are not is simple: The people who are making it in the world are making it and they have fear.” He then continues, “To go forward we need to make the growth choice. The fear choice is to retreat to comfort and avoid the fear. The growth choice is to take fear as a companion and move ahead. To have a life that is a joyful adventure, we need to be willing to take the risk. Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.” We can’t eliminate fear, but we can find ways to manage it so we can move forward on to do the things we have to do. We will address fear more later in this article.

Inspiration Leads to Finding Answers

I was raised in both Judaism and Christian Science. What a mix, huh?! Yet both go hand in hand when having to deal with difficult times and finding ideas to keep inspired. I woke up one morning during my high school days wondering what kind of job I should look for during the summer. I had been reading a bible lesson from the Christian Science Church and the topic that week included ideas about supply. One of the bible stories shared was when Jesus fed over 5,000 people. They had gone to hear him speak and share inspiring ideas. They went to get inspiration and insights about their spiritual selves and not for the sake of being fed. As a matter of fact, they had no idea that anyone would feed them… other than filling their need for ideas about God. I was so moved by this idea of gathering ideas for inspiration. The next thing that happened was that my phone rang. It was my Sunday School teacher who worked for her son in the travel industry. They were wondering if I would be interested in being trained to be a tour manager and lead groups across the country. This turned out to be an amazing opportunity to meet a lot of people and to have fun and travel the US and Canada. It was interesting to me how this prospect came about. I was first inspired by what others did when they went to hear Jesus speak and they were fed. When I read and studied this bible passage, I too was fed by fulfilling a human need. It all happened so fast. Insight, inspiration and my summer need for a job was met.

Finding Connection

In today’s time, we all need to turn somewhere for inspiration and ideas whether it’s visiting with friends, support groups, round table, associations, temple or church groups, CE/Key Executive groups such as Vistage. No matter what it is, you want to be around people that can support others and to lift everyone up.

An Invitation

I’d like to invite anyone who would like to join a Wednesday evening Christian Science testimony meeting that is held via Zoom. I just started to attend them and have found so many ideas that have lifted up my spirit. These meetings consist of readings from the Bible and from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy who founded the religion many years ago as well as some singing and prayer. Half of the meeting is spent with the meeting participants sharing what they have learned during the week from their study of the Bible and through prayer. The ideas are practical and useful filled with lots of take-aways. The meetings are on Wednesdays 7:30 pm PT and only last an hour. If you are interested in attending, please let me know and I’ll get a zoom link to you. See further in the article for more ideas for finding peace.

Ideas for Inspiration

Change is in the Air: It is good time to consider the following quote from Albert Einstein: “The significant problems we have today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” We need to be receptive to consider how we have done things in the past and when things need to change in order to stay current. Remember the Rolodex cards? Even the good old fashioned light pole is being changed out for the more modern version that does not pollute, uses solar electricity, notifies central headquarters through a wireless device when it needs service, and is quicker and less expensive to install.

A Strategy with Stress: We all need to deal with one key element of miscommunication… stress! If we are just reacting without a strategy or a tactic to execute then we are doing no better than running in circles. Stress or “fear” can cause us to shut down and reduce our capacity to listen. An excellent team exercise to understand how stress manifests within the work environment is to have the team members draw a picture of what each person feels they look like when under stress and write out some key attributes when staff members are under pressure and when they are feeling relaxed. Here are some questions to facilitate a discussion: How do your team members manage stress? Do your team members support each other when under pressure? What would be helpful when under stress? If you’d like us to do a lunch time remote workshop entitled, Thinking Clearly or…Is Stress Getting In Your Way? Please let us know… it’s fun, engaging with lots of take-aways.

Be Like an Ostrich: The old tale that ostriches bury their head in the sand just isn’t true. What they are really doing is resting their heads on the ground which allows them to pick up on vibrations so if a predator is near by they can protect themselves. Ostriches are actually excellent listeners! We all need to be like an ostrich and become outstanding listeners. One way to develop your listening skills is to practice active listening where you paraphrase what you think the other person is saying to you. Another thing to do – listen to your heart and soul for inspiration. You might get some great ideas from that still small voice inside.

Get to Know Who You are Dealing With: Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Part of this is to try to understand the people around you. One way to do that is to identify three key traits for each of your team members. Look for commonalities and develop a strategy for how to approach each person in order to communicate in a way that is most effective for everyone.

Create a Communications Plan: Here is a team exercise to focus on communication – briefly answer the following questions:

a. How do you listen… if at all?
b. What are three things that haven’t worked for you when communicating in the past?
c. What are three things that have worked?
d. What would you like your team members to do that they aren’t doing?
e. What are some baby steps to improve your listening and communication style?

Communication and empathy are crucial to developing a successful interpersonal relationship. The more you reach out with a plan in mind that is based on listening and openness, the more ideas will flow to you on how to best manage up and manage down.

We also have a fun workshop on this topic – let us know if you would like to know more about it.

Managing Fear

Fear or stress can feel overwhelming. So, how can we manage it better? The following are some articles on getting a handle on fear, so you can think clearly:

Are You Prepared to Lead the Way – or Has Fear Got Your Focus?
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/prepared-lead-or-fear-focus/

12 Tips on How to Think Clearly and Not Let Fear Control You
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/think-clearly-not-let-fear-control/

Overcoming Fear to Grow by Paul D Walker
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/overcoming-fear-to-grow/

Feeling Burdened?
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/feeling-burdened/

Deeply Prepared People Create Their Own Weather by Larry Wilson
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/deeply-prepared-people-create-weather/

Preparing Your Thought for the Day by Paul D Walker
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/preparing-your-thought-for-the-day/

Finding Peace

Tools for Difficult Times from Unity Church
https://www.unity.org/resources/tools-difficult-times
http://www.dailyword.com/

Temple Menorah
http://templemenorah.org/

Temple Beth Sholom
https://www.tbsmb.org

The People of the United Methodist Church
https://www.umc.org/en
First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica
https://santamonicaumc.org/

ST. MONICA CATHOLIC COMMUNITY
https://stmonica.net/

Daily Lift from Christian Science Church
https://www.christianscience.com/christian-healing-today/daily-lift

Headspace (meditation app) is offering, for a limited time, free subscriptions to 1) anyone who is unemployed (https://www.headspace.com/unemployed) and 2) anyone who lives in LA County (https://help.headspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/360046874573-Headspace-for-Los-Angeles-County-Residents). They also have a 2 week trial period.

Calm is also a great app – https://www.calm.com/ . They have a variety of meditations on youtube, free resources (https://blog.calm.com/blog/free-resources) and a trial period.

Lighthouse meditation workshop – We also have a remote meditation workshop. If you would like to talk further about any of these topics, please give us a call.

We hope this helps you to find some peace and support.

Covid-19 Poll – Lessons from our Clients

Finally, we recently took a Covid-19 poll to see what lessons our clients have learned during this difficult time. We would love to hear your ideas too…just email us at reception@lighthouseconsulting.com. Here are some of the responses:

1. What is the most important lesson you or your business learned?

• Our employees care more than we thought and are more loyal than we expected.
• Can’t take any time together for granted. Appreciate all the little things that make us a team.
• Importance of reserves and diversification
• Something we already knew but anchored with the pandemic is the ability to work from anywhere including home. We pivoted almost all if not all of our 4000+ employees to be able to work remotely including call centers within 2 weeks.
• Be Flexible and be ready to adjust at moment’s notice—In other words: Always have a disaster plan in mind
• I can operate much cheaper than I was operating.
• To react quickly. We got the PPP loan because we were first in line. There is no time for procrastination in today’s world.

2. What one thing do you or your business wish had been done differently?

• Laid them off immediately, subject to recall.
• Dealt with employee issues prior to COVID
• Relationship with smaller bank … Wells was not responsive at all to our needs when required.
• I wish the country had not been shut down.
• Wish I had realized how serious this was earlier in the process
• I have never been an early adopter of anything but I wish I had gotten on the Zoom train sooner.
• I wish we had been more prepared for the turnaround time between the PPP loan and furloughing people right afterwards.

3. What one thing did you or your business do that turned out to be a really smart move?

• Struggle, work hard and become debt-free over the past years.
• Managed IT and Cloud services
• Took time to develop personal relationships with customers. Salesmen instructed to avoid discussing business and simply get to know customer on deeper level.
• We kept masks around since day 1 so that when customers come in we can put them on and make the customer feel better.
• Learned to use ZOOM—wish I had stock in them.
• Furloughed staff quickly and then was able to call back for a month with PPP
• Keep marketing through the troughs. There are still plenty of prospects buying.
• We had the right technology to go virtual very quickly. We also added some new things into our days to keep us connected and engaged. For instance, we started a book club and its been a smashing success. We also created a Weekly Work Log so that we could see what people were doing at home and find out what successes they had and what they were struggling with.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their 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. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors 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, extension 403, 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, http://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.

Is it Safe to Hire 1099 Contractors Anymore?

By Lauraine Bifulco of Vantaggio HR

Independent contractors or employees? It’s not a new question. We’ve all been grappling with it for years, but why does the issue keep circling back around, and dare I say, keep getting more complicated? How do we avoid a legal minefield?

People are divided on the subject. “Yes, I’m positive my design consultant is an independent contractor.” “No, that office manager of yours really needs to be on payroll as an employee.” We can’t seem to agree. Why is that?

Well, it’s not that as intelligent business people, we can’t apply a set of rules to a situation and determine the right answer. If there were a standard, we’d all probably be able to figure it out and agree. But that’s the problem, there simply isn’t one, easy set of rules – until maybe now, with the increasing use across the country of ABC tests to make the determination. Hawaii, for example, has long used the ABC test for determining employee status ‐ as do 16 other states. And now California has jumped on the bandwagon after their state supreme court decided earlier this year that they could not be outdone by Massachusetts who had been known for having the most stringent test in the country! And while these ABC tests aren’t necessarily good news for employers, they are at least typically more clear than the tests used in other jurisdictions and by other agencies.

Let’s go back and see how we got here. As a reminder, it’s unfortunately not up to the worker and the hiring company to determine the best model for working together. There is a common misconception that you can just “1099” the worker and be safe treating him/her as an independent contractor. While filing a 1099 to report income paid to the person can help reduce your penalties with the IRS should it be determined that the person was misclassified, the act of submitting a 1099 does not in and of itself establish independent contractor status. Almost everyone has heard of the IRS’s 20 factor test, which was boiled down in 2007 to an 11‐factor test focusing on 3 main areas. The IRS examines the behavioral and financial arrangement between the worker and the hiring company as well as the nature of their relationship. This type of test, called a “common law test” walks you through a series of questions helping to identify if the worker in practice is functioning independently or not. Unfortunately, oftentimes even after applying the multiple questions, the answer is a little murky and could honestly swing either way.

Other agencies, like the federal DOL, use a different methodology called the “economic realities test.” Like the common law test, there are a series of questions that one poses about the worker and the hiring entity aimed at determining if the worker is truly independent from an economic perspective from the hiring entity. Is this person truly, from a financial perspective operating an independent business?

The challenge with both the common law test and the economic realities test, is that there is no true “pass/fail.” For example, with the IRS’s 11 factor test, you are not guaranteed independent status if you answer 6 out of the 11 questions correctly. The different factors are given varying weights depending upon the exact terms and conditions of a particular worker’s relationship with the hiring company. And unfortunately, clarity is sometimes not reached until years after the relationship is established when there is a complaint or lawsuit and then a final ruling. Employers have been left guessing and hoping that their independent contractors are classified correctly.

Until now. ABC tests utilize a streamlined, 3‐prong approach whereby the hiring entity has to establish that all 3 of the factors of the test are met. If either A, B, or C cannot be established, the analysis is over – your worker is an employee and not an independent contractor.

Here’s how ABC tests typically work:

A worker is legally presumed to be an employee, unless:

A. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring company in connection with the performance of the work;

AND

B. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business (AND/OR outside of the hiring entity’s regular place of business);

AND

C. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

While factors A (the worker needs to be free from control of the hiring company) and C (the worker needs to truly be engaged in running his/her own business) have been part and parcel of just about all the other types of tests used, factor B is frequently the most difficult hurdle to overcome for an employer wanting to treat someone as an independent contractor. Note the “AND/OR” in the description above. Some jurisdictions allow for the “OR” (such as Hawaii), meaning that if you manufacture and sell surfboards, you can still hire someone as an independent contractor if he/she meets prongs A and C, as long as the worker manufactures those surfboards for you at his/her own business location. Some jurisdictions don’t give you that option. Now in CA for example, there is no “AND/OR” – if the person makes surfboards for you, no matter where the work is done, you fail prong B of the test. Period. Game over. Unless the worker is being utilized to provide some type of service that is not the hiring company’s core business, the person will be considered an employee.

Keep in mind that while these ABC tests are becoming more and more common, many agencies may still continue to use their existing criteria. And to make matters even more complicated for us employers, within a specific state, different agencies use different tests. How a worker is classified by state labor commissioner for purposes of overtime, minimum wage, and other employment law protections may well differ from how a determination would be made regarding eligibility for unemployment benefits or coverage by workers’ compensation. Does this make your head hurt yet? It does mine.

This is an area to keep your eye on. It is entirely possible that other agencies will also adopt the ABC standard. Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would incorporate California’s new version of the ABC test into the federal rules for determining independent contractor status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). We are clearly experiencing a trend.

But for now, we are left with different tests being used by different agencies and the challenge it’s not possible to treat someone as an independent contractor for some purposes while an employee for others. When deciding if someone is going to be on payroll or not, we have no choice but to apply the most stringent test that could come into play. And for many of us, it’s the ABC test.

Understanding the thought process behind these rules is helpful. The basic premise it to not have workers deprived of benefits to which they would be entitled if classified as employees. Further, if we allow some companies to save money by avoiding payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, and other mandated benefits and protections, we set the scene for unfair competition in the marketplace.

What is at odds with this trend towards restricting the legal classification of independent contractors, is the evolving “gig” economy. More and more individuals are getting involved with companies such as Uber, Lyft, Grub Hub, and a host of other online, on‐demand service entities that allow people to pretty much decide how much they want to work and when. If these ABC tests are increasingly going to be applied, gig companies are going to have a very hard time continuing to employ workers as independent contractors. And the lawsuits are rolling in. The CA Supreme court ruling made an interesting point. They acknowledged that there is often greater freedom for workers to be treated as independent contractors but stated that “if a business concludes that it improves the morale and/or productivity of a category of workers to afford them the freedom to set their own hours or to accept or decline a particular assignment, the business may do so while still treating the workers as employees for purposes of the wage order.” Point well taken by all of us inside or outside of California.

So where does this leave us? As the landscape continues to evolve, we urge employers to proceed conservatively. Know the exact nuances of the tests in your jurisdictions, get professional help if needed to make a sound determination, audit yourself before someone else does, and keep your eyes open for changes. The gig economy isn’t going away anytime soon, but neither are the ABC tests.

The information presented in this article is intended to be accurate and authoritative information on the subject matter at the time submitted for publication. It is distributed with the understanding that Vantaggio HR is not rendering legal advice and assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.
Copyright © 2020

Lauraine Bifulco is President and Principal Consultant of Vantaggio HR, a human resource outsourcing and consulting firm that works with companies of all sizes across all industries, offering services on a fully outsourced or project basis: On-Site HR * Payroll Admin * Workplace Complaints & Terminations * Multi-State Audits & Handbooks. 1-877-VHR-relx (1-877-847-7359) info@VantaggioHR.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.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style 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 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.

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.

How to Conduct Remote Job Interviews

By Dana Borowka, MA

Many companies struggle to find the right candidates for their organization. Having a small radius to find the right talent can add to these challenges.

The solution is to open up the geographic area for recruiting because that opens up a whole new talent pool. Now your company can target specific areas in the country where more candidates with certain talents may be found.

However, there is a concern. Remote worker programs mean hiring managers need to get better at remote interviewing through video.

During the COVID crisis with the stay-at-home order, remote interviewing has become a requirement, not a luxury.

“Remote worker programs must be done right if you are to garner productivity gains,” says Patty Crabtree, a senior consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience.

“As someone who has implemented these programs and now helps clients transition to these programs, how you interview remote job candidates is an important new recruiting skill,” says Crabtree.

Author and recruiting expert Barry Deutsch has strong views on remote interviewing.

“Most companies do a terrible job preparing managers and executives to hire effectively, including remotely interviewing candidates,“ says Deutsch, a partner at IMPACT Hiring Solutions and co-author of the book You’re Not The Person I Hired.

“In most companies, hiring is not a process, it’s a random set of arbitrary meetings where each individual manager does interviewing in their own misguided way,” says Deutsch. “The minute you turn hiring into a process, train all your managers, and put some rigor behind it, then hiring accuracy starts becoming more reliable.”

Crabtree concurs.

“Once you have a system set up, you can interview anyone through Zoom or similar solutions regardless of their location,” says Crabtree. “It comes down to your process and how you assess candidates.”

Here are tips from Deutsch and Crabtree on how to maximize the effectiveness of your remote job interviews:

Take Advantage of Video

Zoom, Skype and Go-to-Meeting, just to name a few, have been a boon to remote job interviews. Seeing the candidate is so much better than just interviewing them by phone. But beware. Sometimes the technology goes awry. One company we help had a bad interview session with a candidate because the technology was not working right. They were just going to throw out that candidate. That is a huge mistake. With our assistance, they re-interviewed the candidate when the technology was more cooperative.

“Know how stressful or intimidating panel interviews can be,” says Crabtree. “Make it fun and interactive. The attitude should be: ‘Let’s have a conversation and get to know each other. Let’s see how this dynamic will work and if you have the skills to do the job successfully.’”

Deutsch says the most difficult part of interviewing through video is that the process of conducting testing where you ask them to do something to validate the skill they are claiming, such as welding, electronic soldering, physical use of hands in a manufacturing, construction, or assembly role.

“This is now missing unless you bring them in a for a final test before hiring,” says Deutsch. “For all other roles, especially at the professional and managerial level, written tests, role plays, case studies, and situational examples are still important to validate, verify, and vet the candidate responses.”

For some of the knowledge or experience-based testing, there are online educational applications that can be used to proctor these tools.

Prepare Your Interview Questions

“I actually like video and audio interviewing compared to face-to-face interviewing because it tends to remove the bias and emotions most managers use in interviewing that lead to mistakes and errors,” says Deutsch.

When asking questions, focus on understanding their past experience about working from home as it is a different experience, advises Crabtree.

“Delve into self-motivation, organization, time management and development of work relationships,” says Crabtree. “Similar questions you would normally ask but looking to connect their skills and behaviors with the uniqueness of a work at home experience.”

Make sure they can keep themselves on track in a work at home environment along with making sure they could build relationships with their colleagues. There are many introverts in the world that struggle with the relationship piece. While that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t hire them, it gives the manager insight into the support that needs to be provided to help the individual be successful.

Make Sure Your Process is in Order

“If you need workers, using remote interviewing will help with the social distancing that is needed during this time,” says Crabtree. “You can successfully screen candidates remotely with the right process and tools and limit the in-person interaction.”

When she was a hiring manager, Crabtree remained flexible.
“Timing was no different whether someone was local or living in an out of area location,” says Crabtree. “We worked around schedules and determined the times that worked for everyone involved. Sometimes this was early in the morning, during lunch hours or into the evening. We stayed flexible because finding the right candidate was the most important driver of this process.”

Ask Deep and Penetrating Questions

“The top trait of success is initiative,” says Deutsch. “This is also characterized as proactivity or discretionary effort. Very few candidates consistently show that trait.”

According to Deutsch, the very best performers are constantly going above and beyond the call of duty, doing more than they were asked, anticipating, and always thinking one step ahead.

How do you measure this number one trait of success in the interview?

“A large part of hiring failure can be attributed to asking the traditional, standard, stupid, inane, canned interview questions,” says Deutsch. “If you want to determine if someone can achieve your desired goals, outcomes, deliverables, expectations, key performance indicators, and metrics, then you need a set of interview questions designed to extract that information to predict future performance and fit.”

Of course, don’t just rely on the interview. Also carefully check references.

Use an In-depth Work Style and Personality Assessment

Since you’re not meeting people face to face, the use of assessments becomes even more important.

“Never hire another candidate, especially a remote candidate, until you put them through an in-depth workstyle and personality assessment,” says Deutsch. He advises that it doesn’t matter the level of the position. You should test every final candidate.

“Anything less than five hours of effective interviewing is nothing more than closet psychology,” adds Deutsch. “You’re just guessing what’s behind the curtain.”

Yet, hiring for attitude, behavior, and cultural fit is just as important as measuring whether the candidate can perform to your expectations.

When Crabtree was a hiring manager, she had a solid multi-step process in place before she started hiring remote employees.

“After screening the resumes and a quick online assessment, there would be an initial phone call by the hiring manager,” said Crabtree. “If the basic qualifications were met, the candidate would then take an in-depth workstyle and personality assessment, which would help us understand that person’s workstyle and how they would fit into the team.”

Always Seek Top Talent

Remember, the objective of remote interviews is to find top talent.
Here is what Deutsch has to say about finding top talent: “Top talent is working; it’s rare that they’re unemployed so don’t pin your hopes on the resume database of a job board or rely on a recruiter that doesn’t have access to working candidates.”

The better you understand what makes top talent tick, the better chance you have of attracting them.

Deutsch went on to say: “Top talent is usually already well paid and working on amazing projects so don’t believe that paying more money is going to be enough to shake top talent from their current employers. Top candidates ultimately take new jobs because: the opportunity is terrific, they will be working for a boss they can respect, and the company is one they can respect and admire.”

Remember, remote interviews with candidates are a two-way street. Top talent candidates have many options. You want to assess if the candidate is right, and you want to persuade the candidate that yours is the right company for them. The hiring manager has an important job of communicating that during the remote interview.

Lighthouse can help guide your organization in designing and implementing a remote work force platform with the help of our practice specialist through our full service business consulting division For more information please contact Dana@lighthouseconsulting.com or call 310-453-6556 ext. 403.

A Final Thought: Supervising A Remote Work Force

We just did an outstanding webinar entitled, Supervising A Remote Work Force. You’ll find it to be very helpful and will want to share it with others!

Audio: https://lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/040720/OpenLine040720.mp3
Slides: https://lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/040720/OpenLine040720.pdf

Lighthouse can help guide your organization in designing and implementing a remote work force platform with the help of our practice specialist through our full service business consulting division. For more information please contact Dana@lighthouseconsulting.com or call 310-453-6556 ext. 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style 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 and stress management.