TTG Consultants
TTG Consultants Human Resources Consultants Specializing in  Career Management and Corporate Change

by David J. Bowman

A recent study by Gallup research has uncovered a disturbing fact about American workers: 70% are not engaged in their work. In addition, The Conference Board, a corporate think-tank, indicates that 53% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. Of course, these statistics cover a broad range of sentiment - from only slightly to very unengaged and/or unhappy. Nevertheless, the situation clearly must be addressed if the U.S. expects to enjoy continued productivity in an increasingly competitive world economy.

The obvious question raised by these studies is, "Why?" Surely, most employers would be quite surprised at hearing such news. Are our hiring standards, as well as our matching of people to jobs, so inadequate and unsophisticated that we've allowed this unproductive situation to occur? The obvious answer is, "Yes!"

Having been in the selection and hiring business for over twenty years, I can safely say that most American employers go about the hiring process in precisely the wrong way. When a hiring decision must be made, it's usual for the supervisor to decide what experience, skills and perhaps management or operating style are necessary in an incumbent. He or she may ask the opinion of a subordinate or two, but generally these decisions are made only by the supervisor. That's the wrong way to do it!

When asked to help in the selection process, I've used one of two options to determine the necessary core competencies of an incumbent. I've either extensively interviewed the supervisor, as well as several peers, subordinates and perhaps customers, vendors and anyone else that might interact with a prospective incumbent; or I've given the same individuals a professionally prepared, validated questionnaire to determine competencies. These processes are called 360° profiling.

However, in nearly every one of these 360° profiling assignments, the supervisor's views have been substantially skewed from those of the others interviewed or given profiling questionnaires. Thus, if hiring decisions had been left only to supervisors, the wrong candidates would have been hired.

Any wonder, then, that we have these troubling workforce statistics?

When using 360° profiling, we're able to gain a wide perspective of thinking and feeling, from those involved in nearly every aspect of an incumbent's work environment. Clearly, the views of a peer might be quite different from those of a customer, or those of a subordinate might differ greatly from those of a vendor. Each will have his/her own opinions about the competencies needed to get the work done.

Each question in the profiling interview or questionnaire relates to a core competency. To determine an ideal incumbent profile, the various participants' answers relating to each competency are compared, and either an average is calculated, or a meeting of participants produces a consensus of opinion.

This input represents the total competency profile of the ideal candidate, against which proper recruiting and interviewing can begin.

When using the interview process for profiling, the choice of descriptive words for various competencies can be a tricky issue. Words can be confusing, which can cause unreliable results. For example, if the word persuasive is used, it can have different meanings for different people. For one it can mean the persuasiveness of a Mother Theresa to move the world to compassion. For another, it may mean the persuasiveness of a used car salesperson. Thus, words used should be fully defined, or they must be used in several different contexts in order to establish an exact definition for everyone.

A profiling questionnaire often can be the more reliable of the two methods, since frequently it's the result of considerable study and experimentation by psychologists and other professionals in the 360° profiling field. One of the most reliable questionnaire/instruments I've found is The Birkman Method, which contains some 106 questions that relate to 17 core competencies. The results of all participants' questionnaire answers are plotted on a graph, based on group (peer, subordinate, customer, etc.). Thus, the perspectives of each group for each competency can be compared with those of all the other groups.

The importance of a competency can be decided either by averaging all group perspectives for it, or through a consensus meeting of all groups.

Of course, depending on budgets, time and other complexities, it's often best to use BOTH the interview and questionnaire profiling methods. After all, it's always best to have as much information/input on hand as possible when making hiring decisions.

The issue of cost often is raised when considering 360° profiling. To put this to rest, compare the modest cost of a trained facilitator (either internal or external) with the cost of choosing the wrong person for the job. Calculate the cost of severance, job-search assistance (outplacement), continued benefits, additional recruiting, as well as lost ramp-up time, productivity and interface time with management. Cost should be no issue.

360° profiling can help increase employee engagement and reduce worker unhappiness in American business, thus ensuring our long-term productivity. It's the best method for making sure we have the "right" people in the "right" jobs. Instead of believing the supervisor is the best judge of what it takes to get a subordinate's job done, let's bring everyone involved in that subordinate's job into the decision making process. 360° profiling spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

Dave invites you to read other inspiring articles FREE.

  • Resolving Conflicts - Equitably!
  • Resolving to Seek Higher Pay Sets an Achievable Goal
  • FORBES: Tips for Execs to Prevent Disgruntled Worker Backlash
  • FORBES: Execs Bulk Up on Protection as Violent Threats Rise
  • Want to Be a Hollywood Star? Here Are Some Tips...
  • Avoiding Workplace Litigation - Part I
  • Avoiding Workplace Litigation - Part II
  • Where's the People Factor?
  • Are YOU Ready for Radical Change?
  • Five Best Ways to Build... And Lose... Trust in the Workforce
  • Job Survival Skills for a New Century
  • Your Career is a Business... So Run it Like One!
  • Free Trade... Good or Bad for US Workers
  • A Personal 'Mission Statement' Spells Success
  • Getting Ahead Isn't Playing Politics!
  • The Tele-Work Option
  • Stress in the Workplace
  • Where Has All the Loyalty Gone?
  • Keeping Teams Effective
  • Hiring & Firing Employees: Don't Force "At-Will" In Writing
  • The Problem of Sexual Harassment
  • Workplace Violence - A Real Killer!
  • Resolving Conflicts - Equitably
  • Excellence - Just a Little Better Than Average
  • Are You Adept At Adapting?

    Find out more about Dave Bowman...

  • Dave's Biography
  • Motivational and Strategic Speaker
  • See and Hear Dave
  • Contact Dave

    Back to the Site Map

  • 4201 Wilshire Blvd; Suite 430 Los Angeles, CA 90010 | Phone: 323/936-6600 or 800/736-8840 | Fax: 323/936-6721 | E-mail: Click here
    Corporate/Commercial Services Government Services Personal Career Services What They Are Saying Free Stuff About Us Our Clients Articles Site Map

    Home | About TTG | Site Map | Career Transition Outplacement | Organizational Development
    Personal Career Advancement | Recruiting Services