Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Manage Your Change Before It Manages You

by Julia O'Neill 

I’ve been working around HR software for the better part of my career. I’ve had the chance to play with quite a few different systems to come across similar comments and complaints at each and every client company I’ve worked with.

The truth of the matter is no system is perfect. I can attest to that. The bigger truth of the matter is your system most likely works just fine, according to the way it was set up to work.

But why is managing change so important?

Acquiring new software is a major investment. You want to be prepared. The better prepared you are, the more use you will get out of the system. The more use you will get out of your system the more efficient your business and, above all, the greater your ROI. 

The whole idea in getting a new system is to save time and energy. Not spend more of it. But how can we ensure we really save time and energy in the long run and not create more work?

The answer is simple: you have to invest big early on in order to benefit big later.

For example, consider acquiring a new software like... planning a vacation for your employees. 
It’s going to be GREAT! It’s going to take away stress! Everyone is going to love it! 
All these ideas are floating around on how amazing things will be later when you are there but what actions are being taken NOW to ensure these ideals? For all that money you are investing, you want this to go smoothly. Same goes for implementing a new system. In order to create a great experience from the get go, there are a few key things you, as a leader, want to do:

1) Inform your key target employees long in advance. Nobody likes to be ill prepared or uninformed about something that is going to change their day to day. We are creatures of habit. Change is scary! Send detailed reminders and progress news. Printing out quick reference guides and having patch work trainings here and there once the system is already in place is not the way to go. It gives your employees the impression you don’t care, when in fact, the reason you purchased the system is because you do!

2) Empower your key employees and make them drive the change.  By making the users part of the planning and process, you give them the opportunity to take pride in being part of something big. Get them interested, get them participating, get them engaged! My top clients all have the same traits in common. They were extremely involved and engaged in their implementations. They planned. They prepared. They fully participated. Having to sacrifice the time of a few key resources for an implementation is well worth the time saved in the future on fixing things that were not set up the way you wish it had been. 

3) Really get to know what you are signing up for and be present.  I cannot stress this point enough. You want the Porsch but you refuse to learn how to drive it, you heard it was cool- then you complain when it doesn’t mow your lawn for that price. It’s all too common for companies to invest into a system and only use parts of it- then create patch work and workarounds which could all together have been avoided  had they properly planned and gotten to know exactly what they were acquiring and how it could work for them in the first place. How great would it be to use it to its full potential? The majority of post implementation pain points in my experience are as follows: Half the time it’s a training issue, the other times it’s an issue which could have been dealt with during implementation and set up. Where were you when this major event happened in your company? The better the ownership of the system, the greater the satisfaction.

4) Change management is an inside job. Software requires training. Training requires attendance. Attendance requires engagement and expectations set for employees to engage. If you want your people to take the time, give them the time. Everybody is too busy to learn a new system until its part of their expected duties and schedules. This is your duty for the good of your investment into a new system. A software implementation team will come and go with the standard training for the system. It is up to you to take the torch and run with it. Have in-house training sessions. This should be part of the planning process when deciding on changing your system.

5) Make training bulletproof and accessible. Create go-to and step by step/quick reference guides for all users to have on their desk. Maximize the availabilities of videos by the software providers. Have in house change agents and super-users who can help in the creation of documentation. Share this documentation on a shared drive. Have mandatory  lunch and learn sessions for each user group. Your system’s efficiency is only as effective as its users so make them GREAT at using it.

In conclusion, acquiring a new system is a big commitment for a company but it can go over quite smoothly with the proper planning and communication for the change.  With the right level of engagements and commitment it can be the best move you’ve made for the company and a success story shared by all who are affected by it. It may even be something to brag about!  In my opinion, in business, much like any aspect of life, any well thought-out and well managed change to improve is always a change for the better.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got –Anonymous


Join HRsmart's next webinar, A Comprehensive Review of FCRA Compliance Regarding Background Checks



Julia O'Neill is a talent management advisor with a background in both recruitment and HR consulting on Talent Management Systems implementations, projects and HR initiatives for large companies across Canada. Julia is subscribed to and follows the latest trends in the market on practices, systems, reviews. She is also subscribed and follow many groups of talent in hard to find skill sets to keep with the trends and talent pockets. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn.


Friday, July 18, 2014

"So, Tell Me About Yourself" and Other Interviewing Techniques

by Vincent Fabello

Can I confess? 

I’ve never liked interviews. 

 As a jobseeker, as a hiring manager, and even as a student, I feel like I got decent at them, and networking groups helped me with skills on the jobseeker side. However, it was quite a while before I learned the tricks of how to be a great hiring manager interviewer. Also, since I’ve stopped having direct reports, there are a number of additional tools that I wish I had when I was interviewing. Here are a few things I’ve learned and that I see out there with regards to asking questions, when to ask them, and who to ask to ask them …just stay with me.


Pre-screen, Pre-screen!

In addition to your screening questionnaire and secondary application, phone screens can help filter out the candidates that you want to spend more time on. With a list of basic questions and possible answers, any one on the team can help with this effort. That is, they don’t need to be a senior HR Generalist to ask if an out of town candidate is willing to relocate. They don’t need to be a medical expert to ask if they have a nursing license for your state. Do they have experience with key systems, processes, or equipment? Checking to see if any of your interview questions for this position can be asked by a team member with bandwidth can help top candidates filter to the top, catch more candidates that don’t warrant the team’s time, and also let you know which candidates may need an expert look over.

Video killed the radio star

In the cases of some job roles, video interviews have become an exciting new way to screen candidates. We’ve written about them before (see Let's Get Digital) and how they can help you get a feel for if the candidate will work out.

You don’t have to go it alone

I have had and done interviews solo and I don’t think I’ll ever do them again. I’ve found there is a lot of value in assembling a panel interview. Bringing in other peers or managers of the same type of resources has given me better coverage and perspective on candidates. Other managers have been able to catch a nuance of the candidate or confirm a perspective. Bringing in other perspectives and questions to the table also helps the interview to be more fruitful. Certainly, discussing the key interview questions ahead of time as well as who will take point on key questions will also make sure that you have full coverage during the interview.

Additionally, look to bring in other team members. If the position will be working with another team such as marketing, customer support, or operations, invite those team members too. They will have the perspective of what skills are needed to interact with the team and can ask the candidate questions related to their interactions. Make sure to speak to them ahead of time as to the goals of their questions and the interview. They may need to know they can have a good rapport with your new report, or they may need to know that they can enter the TPS reports in a certain way. Certainly, game planning what they’re looking for will help keep the interview focused and on target.

By screening your candidates more ahead of time, your team can efficiently narrow down the field. Running a panel interview can help make sure all sides of an issue are covered and give you additional eyes and ears so you’re not second guessing yourself. And pulling in related team members can make sure that you’re hiring a successful part of the team. So don’t be afraid to ask the right questions, either yourself or of another person!




Vincent Fabello is a Solutions Engineer with a technology background. As a developer, he has worked for a number of software companies in various client facing roles and in industries ranging from data consulting, real estate, insurance, to human resources. Connect with Vincent on LinkedIn.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Using Screening Questionnaires in High Volume Recruiting

by Judy Fort and Dawn Goebel

Over the past couple of months, the topic of screening candidates has been one that is popular when talking with the team internally, as well as existing and future customers. We've spent some time on the blog talking about the main point of using questionnaires (What Can a Screening Questionnaire Really Do?), as well as some tips for writing screening questionnaires (6 Quick Tips For Getting the Most Out of Screening Questionnaires). With those in mind, what are some things we can do with screening questionnaires specific to high volume recruiting?

The larger the pool of candidates you are looking at, the bigger the challenge of finding the right person among them - the ever elusive needle in the haystack. When you are looking at so many applicants, it is easier to miss the right people because you spend so much of your time reviewing the unqualified applicants. Some common challenges to hiring for high volume positions include:
  • Being overwhelmed at the number of applications: having candidates who don't meet your minimum qualifications in the applicant pool increases the number of resumes you have to review, making it necessary to spend more time reviewing resumes. This in turn can result in needing to take short cuts or even not being able to view each resume which could lead to you missing out on applicants that are actually qualified.
  • Being inconsistent on who you select to move to the next step of your process: when different recruiters (or even sometimes the same recruiter on different days) are not consistent in using your processes, you can miss out on identifying the right quality applicants.
Screening questionnaires are really most useful when used to put order to larger applicant lists and quickly identify those who meet minimum qualifications and should move forward in the recruiting process. As noted in a previous post, the main purpose of screening questionnaires is to remove the bottom half of the applicant pool, not sort the top half, which is an especially powerful tool towards ensuring that you and your team are dedicating the most time pursuing the right applicants.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of your screening questionnaires leans very heavily on you identifying and asking the right questions. Stick with questions that are targeted towards the things you cannot do without in the job you are hiring for:
  • If the position requires a license or certification, ask about it. There are many examples, but some jobs that come to mind: teachers, nurses, electricians, drivers, etc. If someone doesn't have the certification required for the job you need them to do (or won't have it in the very near future), moving on to the next applicant is a logical step.
  • If you have a need to hire someone who can handle cash and do basic math on the spot, ask math questions typical of the job you need them to do, such as making change on a sale. If someone needs to make change and answers these questions incorrectly, if they were hired, it could cause discrepancies when counting their drawer at the end of each day.

Making use of screening questionnaires in these positions makes it possible to weed out those applicants we don't have the skills you need so that you can focus on the applicants that do, instead. Remember, you want to work smarter not harder so take advantage of a Screening Questionnaire that will do some of the work for you!


Judy Fort heads HRsmart's Sales Engineering department and bridges the gap between technology and real world users. For a decade she has been working with diverse HR organizations helping them to achieve their goals. Connect with Judy on LinkedIn.
Dawn Goebel is the Director of Training and Professional Services at HRsmart, coordinating the training of HRsmart clients around the world. In this role, she provides training targeted to all levels of users within an organization, giving training that truly captures the elements those users need to know, including both product and HR process training. Connect with Dawn on LinkedIn.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Growing your Small Business Starts with Hiring the Right People

Interviewing tips to uncover the best talent

by Michael Betrus

A quick Amazon search for "job interview" books yields over 50,000 results. 50,000! If a candidate wants Google-sourced advice on prepping, interviewing, answering tough questions, follow-up, negotiating a salary...it's all out there. Some of it is even pretty good. When you're a business owner getting ready to expand, there is not nearly as much out there when it comes to the interviewing process/ candidate interviewing processes.

Last year I had worked with an owner that had to hire a manager for the first time. We talked about his approach, role played, and I thought I'd get him a book to help him along. Then I learned there are hardly any online or published resources on how to interview to find great candidates! If you're reading this you know how important that investment in team members is and how you have to get it right the first time. Consider these tips when interviewing your next candidate.

Build Rapport

Your candidates are probably nervous. They probably have a lot hinged on this interview. Hopefully they prepped well, and in short have invested much time and emotion in this make or break meeting. You want to see their best, so you get the best window into their skills and potential fit. Breaking the ice with friendly small talk for five minutes or more will give you a window into their personality and set them at ease so they communicate at their best.
  1. "How is your week going?" Then build on that with a couple questions about whatever they respond.
  2. "I see you went to school at Michigan State. What did you think about the tournament?"
  3. "How's the interview process been for you? How does the job market seem right now?"
Smile frequently, raise your eyebrows occasionally, laugh a little, give the conversation generous pauses to get the candidate talking. Use some voice inflection, and make some reactionary comments like "Excellent!" or "That sounds terrific!", to provide reinforcement and to build the candidate up some so they're at ease.

Questions and Answers

You've got your role questions prepared. How you frame those up and probe deeper is the difference between a perfunctory interview and a probing one. Consider these types of question phrases when asking about past experiences.
  1. "What do you think about that?"
  2. "How do you feel about this?"
  3. "If you could magically change that how should it look?"
  4. "How should it get from where it is to be excellent?"
What you're doing here is probing into the candidate thought process to understand their reasoning and approach. And, do they know what excellence looks like? Can they reason how to get there?

Go Deep

If your candidate buys one of the 50,000 books available or the many online prep resources, they'll have prepared responses to boilerplate questions. So how do you differentiate them and find out what they're really thinking?

Suppose you're asking a question about how your manager candidate performance manages their team. You ask "How do you coach or develop your team."

They respond "I have 1:1's with each member of my team and give them ample time to speak and then coach them on ways to improve." How can you go deeper? Here's something you can say to follow up.

Walk to your white board or pull out a pad and ask "Do you have a model you always use, a structure of how you deliver constructive coaching?" Then take some notes.

Or follow-up with "That sounds great! Do you mind if we role play it for five or ten minutes? I'll be your team member and you can show me how you coach?"

There is a lot of art in conducting great interviews. The better you are the better you will uncover great candidates. You'll win and so will your new team members.





Michael Betrus is the author of Great Questions Great Answers and Perfect Phrases for Resumes and Cover Letters, published by McGraw Hill. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.


Monday, July 7, 2014

4 Things to Avoid When Planning for Compensation

by Peyton Liu

Compensation Management is the lifeblood to most of the enterprises. Every business wants to dominate Compensation management, which is simply because a good compensation management model is able to inspire employees, boost morale, motivate your talent, and promote enterprise performance improvement. On the other hand, poor compensation management can also cause the productivity and sales performances to a standstill situation.

I had been working with many small and medium private enterprises in the past few years as a compensation consultant. I often heard the CEOs complain that their employees were unstable, causing high turn-over rates every year. Overall, the main issue was the employees never wanted to fully commit themselves to the company. This is a headache to many companies, not only SMBs. It is not difficult to come to the conclusion that there must be some compensation management issues involved. An existing, unsound compensation management system will affect the future development of the company. Everyone is working to make a living, after all...

In my opinion, the following four points are the most common scenarios when it comes to a poor compensation management.


(1) Unclear Pay Philosophy

Before you build a skyscraper, you should build a very strong foundation first. This same philosophy applies in compensation management. Before we build the compensation structures, we need to have a clear pay philosophy. Based on Mercer Consulting’s “3-P Model”, there are 3 common pay philosophy used, which are:

  • Pay for People
  • Pay for Performance
  • Pay for Position
For example, if your company’s pay philosophy is “Pay for Position”, and you don’t have every employees’ Job Description updated, clearly, you are already off to the wrong start.


(2) Outdated Compensation Structure

To maintain a strong compensation structure is imperative for any organization. If your compensation structure is outdated, you may end up paying your employee way too much, which will increase your company operation cost, Or you may end up paying your employees way too little, which will make it extremely difficult to retain your top talent.

Not to mention that there are still some companies that do not even have a compensation structure. In fact, in most private enterprises, when it comes to compensation decisions, they end up using the “Pay for Faces” model. This means there is no supportive data and/or scientific basis to trace their reasoning. This is because of two problems: 
  • They still do not realize the need to establish a compensation system. 
  • Human Resources management is weak. Usually meaning the human resources process in those companies are mostly carried out by non-professionals.

(3) Lack of Incentive Plans

Total Cash Compensation (TCC) includes basic salaries, fixed cash allowances and incentives (including both Short and Long Incentives). 

When Human Resource professionals launch their compensation competitive analysis every year, Annual Base Salary (ABS), which is your monthly salary X 12 month, and Total Cash Compensation (TCC) are the two key points HR professionals have pay attention too. ABS decides whether you can attract new hires, especially fresh graduates; TCC decides whether you can retain your top employees. Most importantly, Incentive Plans are the core factor in TTC. There are 3 types of mistakes that I have come across regarding incentive plans. 

  • Firstly, there is no Incentive Plan, and employees’ total cash is basically their monthly base salary times 12 months. 
  • Secondly, companies do have incentive plan, but it is the same to everyone, including sales and non-sales. 
  • Thirdly, in order to drive revenue, the targets are too aggressive for the entire company to reach. 
With any or all of the above, it will put your compensation management structure, and in turn your organization, at risk. 

(4) Obsolete Performance Review & Evaluation Tool

“90% of companies now require employees to participate in variable pay plans based on performance, up from about 50% two decades ago” - according to a survey of 1,100 U.S. companies by human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt in 2013. From this survey, we can see that “Pay for Performance” is commonly used now days, however, I have seen performance management handled in so many different ways. Some companies do not have standardized guidelines or tools for performing performance reviews. The only “tool” they have is a piece of paper which listed 20+ questions from each line manager, and scores were given based on employees answers. This is very inefficient, not to mention different line managers may have different questions, which can lead to bias. If the performance review results can’t be aligned, then there is no way we can perform Compensation management effectively.

As the old saying goes, “Compensation is not the reason you retain your key talent, but for sure it could be the reason they leave”. In order to keep your key talent, avoid these 4 mistakes, and be sure to invest whenever necessary, choose wisely, and be smart about your compensation solution. 



Join HRsmart's next HRCI certified webinar, How to Get the Most Out of Your Compensation Review Process


Peyton Liu is a Solutions Engineer with HRsmart, working with SaaS-based tools for the Human Resources community. Peyton has experience identifying customers needs, delivering demonstrations to customers' executives and HR professionals, and compensation data checking and report delivering. Mainly focused on compensation demonstrations and consulting, Peyton also can assist clients with their applicant tracking, career development, and learning management needs. Connect with Peyton on LinkedIn.


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What We Heard at SHRM

by Andy Najjar and Judy Fort

Last week, our team (Andy, Judy, Vincent, and Tom) had the pleasure of talking with many different representatives from the HR community at the annual SHRM show in Orlando, FL. We always enjoy these opportunities to not only share what our software can help organizations achieve, but also to learn more about what challenges organizations are facing, and where technology can improve their experiences/outcomes. With this in mind, we would like to let you all in on what we heard at SHRM this year.

"We need a solution that works on mobile devices."

Mobile is a large topic; everyone is using their mobile devices and smart phones to be connected. How we take that and really reach out to our candidates and employees is another large topic discussed. Currently Monster & CareerBuilder are seeing between 30-40% of their traffic coming from mobile users, while LinkedIn is seeing about 50% of their traffic coming from mobile users. The big question now comes what happens when all these candidates find a job they are interested in. A lot of times they are directed to a website that is hard to maneuver and an application that is lengthy and not mobile-friendly. A big area to consider is the drop-off rate - how many of these users are actually clicking on a job they are interested in and end up not completing their application process? Thus, it is important to have a mobile site which helps with capturing that traffic as well as gives your mobile candidates an easy experience by shortening their apply process. Things like easier dropdown answers and eliminating creating a username and password can be great time savers and great reasons to have the mobile user finish the apply process.

"We are a small business, but no one makes a product that works for us."

Over the past year, we've heard this statement more and more often, and we're happy to let you know that HRsmart has created a software package specifically for small businesses. We understand that the success of small business focus around the quality of the team you employ, and we provide tools that enable you to attract the talent you need as well as keep them engaged and motivated once on board.

"We don't have a system in place right now."

We have heard a lot of interesting questions from organizations that have no systems in place to help with the current processes. "What is the best way to get started?" comes up quite a bit. We believe there is a lot to determining that; however, there are a few important factors to think about while making that decision.
  1. Currently, where is the biggest "pain point" - what is it that you hear the team talk about the most?
  2. Which area would bring the largest ROI to the organization? Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves and really help convincing the decision making team to take the first step.
  3. What is a system that can be slowly implemented, where sometimes a rollout can be done to various groups (i.e. locations, departments, etc.) to aid in user adoption?
We enjoyed meeting everyone who stopped by the booth or came to our cocktail party at SHRM. If you couldn't make it, we hope to see you at HR Technology in October, or at another upcoming conference.


Join HRsmart's next HRCI-certified webinar, How to Get The Most Out of Your Compensation Review Process


Judy Fort heads HRsmart's Sales Engineering department and bridges the gap between technology and real world users. For a decade she has been working with diverse HR organizations helping them to achieve their goals. Connect with Judy on LinkedIn.
Andy Najjar is a Regional Sales Manager at HRsmart, working in the SaaS industry for the past 6 years helping organizations with their goals. He has experience in areas of Business Development & Sales, helping organizations to look at unique and creative ways of doing business. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

6 Recruiting Strategies for Small Businesses

by Tracey Evans

Small businesses have different recruiting needs from larger companies. What recruiting strategies should you be making use of to ensure the best success?

1. Share jobs out to job boards.

Job board websites are a common way companies are able to advertise their job openings and drive a large volume of incoming applicants. Most job boards also have the capability for companies to search for job seekers to match to a specific type of job and reach out to them directly through automation. Some of the most popular job boards are Monster and Careerbuilder. For some of the small businesses that are cost sensitive, there are free job boards available as well.

2. Your best people are your best recruiters.

Let your employees take the lead in bringing the talent into your organization. Look towards your top performers, they most likely surround themselves with talented skilled people like themselves. Create a winning culture paired with an employee referral program that incentivizes your current workforce to help build a winning team.

3. Create a winning culture and show off what your organization has to offer.

Big is not always better. Smaller companies have more flexibility, less road blocks to conquer, and since they are always in growth mode, have a lot more potential for employees to advance sooner than later.

4. Social, social, social!

Social networking has become a critical part of an organizations overall recruiting strategy not matter what the size company. This is a good tool to show case your organization and what you have to offer. Costs are pretty non-existent, setting up a Facebook or Twitter account is usually free. It caters to not only ones that are looking for a job, but people that know people who are looking for a job, and so on, and son on...

5. Recruit 24/7 to build a pool of quality talent.

As a small business, you are competing with the big companies for finding quality talent. As an owner or manager take control along with engaging your current employees to always be on the lookout to help build a pool of potential future talent to choose from. Draw them in and build long lasting relationships. Timing is everything, you may not be ready, or they may not be a fit right now, but one day it may all come together, so be ready.

6. Incorporate/foster a learning environment.

Your top performers want to develop their skills to show they are a valuable contributor. Create an environment to allow people to act as entrepreneurs, allowing them to grow and expand their potential career path. These are all good stories for you to tell for when attracting new comers to your organization. Company size does not matter, as long as someone can relate and forsee the opportunity ahead.





Tracey Evans has a strong background in operations and sales management within the service and telecommunications industries. Tracey brings an extensive amount of experience in an environment leading start up businesses from inception to profitability. She brings a diverse amount of professional and strategic skill in all aspects of leading a successful business. Connect with Tracey on LinkedIn.