Saturday, May 31, 2008

Q. What steps can we take to, as much as possible, make sure we hire and retain top performers?

A. Many managers hire people based on a “gut feeling” and that’s scary. Statistics show that hiring based on an interview alone has about a 14% chance of success. The first step I recommend for any company that hires people is to train their managers on interviewing. A good behavioral-based interview training course will provide the hiring manager with tools to better select candidates based on fit.

Past behavior is a predictor of future performance and learning how to gather that information in an interview will go a long way in helping to select for fit. At Barnes Healthcare Services, we also use other tools to gather information during the hiring process. We require all potential employees, regardless of position, to complete a behavioral based assessment. The Department of Labor recommends comparing a candidate against an established benchmark or pattern. We use a tool that compares every candidate against top performers in those positions. Lastly, and very crucial, is the use of background tests and drug screens.

To retain top performers, companies must pay a competitive wage, provide good benefits and ensure that managers know how to manage. Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit people. A manager has as much impact on retaining top performers as any other aspect of your business. Training those who are responsible for motivating, developing, coaching and training other employees is a must.

With competitive bidding impacting many areas of the country and the 36-month cap looming, more than ever companies need to protect their human capital asset. When it comes to employees, then, take a two-pronged approach: train managers in the selection process (interviewing) and in the retention process (effective management).

Richard Davis, SPHR, is the director of human resources for Barnes Healthcare Services in Valdosta,