Tag: Seattle Temporary Staffing

Need Your Temporary Employee to Make A Difference? Try Beefing Up Your Onboarding Process!

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 6, 2014

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED Contract Employee, contract staffing, Flexible WorkForce, hiring, Onboarding, Orientation, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Employee

Speaking as a company who takes the time to 1) understand the work our temporary employees will be doing for our customers, 2) determine the skills, knowledge, and experience our workers need to have to do the work at the levels needed, and 3) evaluate each employee in terms of the soft skills important to placement success – we know that even the “right fit” isn’t always good enough to ensure that a temporary employee will hit the floor running. If our clients have high stakes work in play and need our temporary employee(s) to perform at high levels right out of the gate, we suggest a thorough onboarding process to get our employees up and running quickly. It goes without saying that the days of greeting a temp, showing them their work station, lunchroom and bathrooms, and then leaving them alone to figure out what to do next, are long gone – if they ever existed. Work is much too complex, the importance of following work policies too critical, etc. to leave a temp’s orientation to chance. While temps are known for the ability to figure things out, because work environments are almost never the same, when it comes to temporary or contract workers more time needs to be spent up front, explaining all those things that are unique about you, your work environment, and your expectations of their work. In some ways, because you need/expect productivity quickly from your temporary/contract workers, the timing and importance of their orientation may even be more important than the timing and importance of the orientation you provide to your core workforce. The two orientations are, of course, quite different. Orienting your temporary/contract employees must be done quickly and efficiently, requiring a clear roadmap or checklist of what they need to know. Here are FIVE THINGS you likely will want to cover: 1.  The Circumstance – the reason why you chose to hire a temp rather than a core worker.  Why does their job, even if temporary, exist? What goals must be reached in order for the employee’s work to be considered successful? You might be amazed at how important it is to share your reasons for hiring a temp instead of a core employee – it gives the temp a sense of purpose, sometimes showing them how they are both a unique and special contributor to an important team goal, “I chose to bring on as a temp, because I needed a level of skill and experience I didn’t have with my current team. Your skills are so strong in (describe) we are going to let you take the lead in those areas where that skill is needed.” A temp, who clearly knows you value them as a “contributor” if only for a short period, is an employee you can count on to go out of their way to “make a difference.” 2.  Your Expectations and Priorities.  “In order for our time together to be considered successful, I need you to__________________.” Define the work outcome you are trying to achieve, how success will be defined and the impact of success. Examples of goals might be, 1) “I need you to complete this project within the time frame frames we’ve discussed,” 2) “I need you to work very cooperatively with our accounting team who is watching this project with a very critical eye” or, 3) “I need you to bring any issues to my attention right away as it is important that we work through any and all problems very quickly. Senior management has their eyes on this project.” The impact of their work is also an important element to be communicated, “This project is one of three projects we will be working on this year that are most related to our company’s ability to compete for business in South America.” 3.  Explain when, how and how often they need to be checking with you.  If you need quick updates at the end of each day, let them know. If you want them to stop by your office at least once a week, let them know. Knowing what you expect from them in terms of keeping you informed is a key element of placement success. We’ve seen very talented temporary or contract employees not meet our customer’s expectations simply because they didn’t know when or how often to communicate with our client. 4.   Identify challenges and what they should do when they encounter them.  “I want you to know you are likely to uncover challenges with_______________________. When that occurs, I want you to get help from George who knows how to push through these types of obstacles.” Fill in the blank, honestly and completely, so that your temporary worker knows what to expect and how to get issues resolved. 5.  Your hiring policies. The employees’ chances of being hired.  Don’t beat around the bush – implying there is a chance your temporary employee can be hired if that chance is minimal. At the same time, if the chances are good that their time as a temp is looked on as an audition for a direct hire opportunity, let them know. Describe the policies and processes in place that allows a hiring manager to consider (or not consider) hiring a temporary employees and what they would need to do in order to be considered. If you have clear policies, you can expect your staffing vendor to have shared this information with their employee prior to their placement, but re-stating these policies during an onboarding process, is a good way to reinforce the rules. Some hiring managers will imply a higher probability of hire than actually exists as a way to keep the temporary employee motivated. In fact, just the opposite is what’s created when the offer of employment isn’t forthcoming. Kyle Update SignatureThe onboarding of temporary employees is another area of managing a flexible workforce that needs careful planning and preparation. The PACE Staffing Network typically works closely with our employer clients to share the responsibility of a well engineered communication process where both PACE and our clients need to pay a role. For more information about employee onboarding and other factors important to managing a high impact flexible workforce, contact me, Kyle Fitzgerald, at kylef@pacestaffing.com. I am PACE’s Director of Business Operations and part of what I do is consult with employers on how to use temporary/flexible employees in ways that create a competitive advantage.  

Why “Hands Off” Always Starts with “Hands On”

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 20, 2014

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED direct hire, Seattle Temporary Staffing, staffing agency Bellevue, staffing agency kent, staffing agency seattle, staffing partnerships, Temp to hire, Temporary Staffing

Part of our “How to Get the BEST from your Staffing Partner” Tool Kit       While many staffing companies, the PACE Staffing Network included, will advertise their services as a  “hands free” staffing solution, in reality we all know that getting to  “hands free” always starts with our customer’s “hands on” commitment to building a staffing partnership.    Here are 7 “hands on” things you can do to get the best out of PACE or another staffing partner of your choice, when it comes time to use our services to hire the “just right” employee. 1. COMMIT TO A PARTNERSHIP, NOT A SCRAMBLE.  Some hiring managers believe that the best way to ensure hiring success is to bomb the market - to send out written job descriptions to multiple staffing agencies, post their job on multiple job boards, and then sit back and wait for the response. The motive for this approach is to hire quickly and efficiently, finding the employee amongst the sea of candidates that will be uncovered using this approach.   In reality, the result is often an unintended and unwanted opposite. Here’s why… Most high performing staffing companies will not commit internal resources to work on requests where they believe success is either not likely or determined more by luck than skill. They are also reluctant to represent jobs that have been commoditized, i.e. widely available in the candidate marketplace. They know that when multiple agencies are asked to scramble for candidates, the candidates that are assembled quickly are often not the right fit, lengthening the hiring process and expanding the time spent screening unqualified candidates The alternative? Select one, possibly two, staffing companies who have a financial incentive to invest in the time necessary to ensure quality screening. Spend YOUR time making sure your staffing partner has the information they need to source the right candidates and screen them according to your criteria. Let your staffing partner decide how best to source for the right candidates, so that you no longer have to worry about job postings. If you have given your staffing partner enough time to do their work in a quality way, and they don't perform in the timeframes needed, you've likely selected the wrong partner—a staffing company that doesn't have the resources you need. The right staffing partner will align their services with your work style and standards. 2. PLAN FOR SUCCESS. One of the best ways to start a partnership is to spend time at the beginning of your HIRING project, planning for a successful outcome and all the steps in between. Share all you know about the job you need filled and the type of candidates you believe are most likely to be successful in the job. Your pre-hire homework should include talking to those people who know what the job entails; who have a perspective on what type of candidates will do the job well, and where there have been problems with certain types of candidates in the past. Make sure the information you are providing to your staffing partner captures current work content and all the nuances important to placement success. Job descriptions are helpful, but typically need to be updated when it's time to replace an existing employee.  And if you’re hiring a temporary or contract worker to fill a job formerly filled by a core employee, make sure you assess exactly what you need from that temporary or contract worker. The work to be done and the skill requirements for the right candidates are typically quite different for temporary compared to core hires.   Create a realistic timeline for each step in the hiring process—sourcing, evaluating, interviewing, selecting and onboarding the right candidate. Know what’s at stake if the steps in the timeline aren’t completed as planned so all eyes stay focused on addressing the business need, knowing where you have wiggle room and where you don’t. Memorialize your timeline so that both you and your staffing partner know exactly what’s expected, and by when. Reach agreement about how, when, and what will be communicated throughout the hiring process so that you stay in sync throughout the process – no surprises for you or your staffing partner. 3. DEDICATE THE TIME NEEDED! In today’s job market, the competition for talent often translates into the need for hiring managers to give the hiring process their undivided attention. Once your staffing partner has sourced, recruited, evaluated and submitted candidates, there are critical steps in the process—interviewing, evaluating, and deciding—that, only you can do. Trying to sandwich in resume reviews or candidate interviews in-between other work you consider more important, is not a formula for hiring success. So, we like to make sure our client’s work schedules are arranged to have enough time to review submittals, conduct interviews and provide timely feedback. Because the best candidates are typically in the job market for short periods of time, we recommend that you stay prepared to respond to candidate submittals within 24 hours of receipt and be available for a candidate interview 1-3 days from their submittal.    You also must be available to provide feedback, field questions, or address issues with your staffing partner as they come up. Your staffing partner’s recruiters need to know that the work they are doing to attract candidates to their client's jobs will have a payoff for themselves and their candidates. In the staffing business, we refer to customers who request and then don’t respond to candidate submittals, as “black holes.” Too many “black holes” and even the most sought after clients can lose recruiter attention, reducing the chances of a positive outcome. 4. GET CLEAR ON KEY REQUIREMENTS – REALLY! It’s easy to create a long list of “attributes” that you’d like to see in the hired employee. It’s much harder to prioritize that list so that you know which requirements are key to placement success! If you ask your staffing partner for candidates lucky enough to have “everything” on your list, be prepared either to get no candidates or too many candidates, who perhaps more problematically, lack the requirements you believe to be key. Make sure you are clear on the difference between attributes candidates “must have” and the attributes that are better left as “would like.” The take away from any planning process is full agreement with your staffing partner on a SHORT LIST of candidate attributes considered “key” to placement success. And here’s an important tip, once you’ve agreed on key requirements, ask your staffing partner to present prospective candidates using a summary worksheet of how each candidate meets your key “must have” requirements. Don’t let yourself get distracted by impressive resumes or cover sheets that cover up a lack of skills or experiences in areas considered key—a common cause of hiring errors.     5. MAKE SURE THE CANDIDATE YOU REQUEST IS THE CANDIDATE YOU CAN AFFORD. The candidates who CAN DO the job come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and costs. They will have different skill sets, work experiences, each dictating the amount of money they will request as their pay and benefit package. Be prepared for your staffing partner to share information about the realities of the current job market—things you need to know about what type of candidate’s are available in the marketplace, at what price. If you find that the information you are getting differs from what you thought, don’t shoot the messenger or ignore their message by continuing to insist on the impossible. To make the right hiring decision, the type of candidate you are looking for has to be available in the marketplace and meet the parameters of your budget. Sometimes this requires both discovery and negotiation. For example, let’s say you need to hire an administrative employee to manage your calendar, schedule appointments, and remind you of upcoming tasks. This is a job requiring a very specific set of mechanical skills and a mastery of calendaring technology. If, in addition to these skills, you want to hire someone who will work independently, use their own judgment to arrange meetings and activities on your behalf, keep others informed of projects you are managing, etc. that’s a different set of skills and experiences. Do you need to pay for the higher of the two skill levels? Only you can decide. However, your staffing partner should be able to point out the impact of each requirement on the required pay package. Some employers will simply elect a “developmental” strategy and hire the lesser skilled candidate in order to stay within budget requirements. Others will spend the money on the more highly skilled employee because they need the services of an assistant, not just a technician. 6. BE PREPARED TO BE FLEXIBLE – TO ADJUST THE PLAN. While pre-hire planning is important to an organized, efficient, hiring process, some of the steps in the process or plan often need to be adjusted when faced with the nuances of candidate needs and availability. A candidate who needs to relocate in order to accept your job offer may delay the starting date, requiring you to decide if the candidate is “worth the wait.” A highly skilled candidate whose pay requirements are considerably more than what you had budgeted may or may not be the right hire—but you need to be prepared to decide. Our point? Be prepared to deal with real life candidate situations as they come up, knowing that hiring in today’s marketplace often requires flexibility and creativity. Don’t be afraid to use your staffing partner as your marketplace expert. If you don’t hire the candidate that needs to relocate, what are your chances of finding a similar candidate locally? Is the job you have going to be meaty enough for the higher skilled candidate? Let your staffing partner guide you through your search for answers to these questions. 7. COMMUNICATE CANDIDLY AND OFTEN.  When things change for you, make sure you let your staffing partner know. The work it takes to source, screen, and prepare a candidate for specific work requirements takes time. Your staffing partner doesn’t like wasting time any more than you do and that’s what happens when they don't have the information they need to do their job efficiently. Reciprocally, expect your staffing partner to keep you posted on their candidate sourcing successes as well as information they gather as they track their candidates throughout the placement process. Many times they will be privy to candidate information that will let you know if your preferred candidate is actually going to accept your job offer if extended. We recommend daily touch-points between our recruiting team and our clients to make sure we stay current on what each of us is experiencing as we interact with potential. Feedback processes should be honest, candid and ongoing. This is particularly true with regard to submittal reviews and/or follow-ups after interviews. Your staffing partner needs your feedback ASAP, as they use that feedback to make adjustments in their sourcing and evaluation activities. Don’t be embaNancyrrassed if you don’t think the candidate your staffing partner thought “should be perfect” was not the right fit for you. Selecting the right candidate isn’t about being “right or wrong” in your assessment, but is about gathering as much information as you can on each candidate so your hiring decision can be based on a broad base of information and perspectives. For more information on “how to get the best from your staffing partner” contact me, Nancy Swanson, at nancys@pacestaffing.com or (425) 454-1075 ext. 3010. I’m PACE’s Vice President of Partnership Development – I am focused on helping our customers develop the type of recruiting partnerships that we know will optimize their staffing results.  

25 things you need to know in order to hire the “right” employee

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 18, 2013

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED Job Market, pace staffing, Recruitng Profile, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Staffing Agency, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Work Environment

Hiring the right employee isn’t just about finding the best talent in the marketplace, but finding and eventually hiring an employee whose skills, work style and motivations best “fits” the unique requirements and offerings of a specific job and the work environment that goes along with it. To “hire right,” hiring managers and recruiters need to first understand the type of employee who best fits the actual work requirements—to create what we call a RECRUITING PROFILE.  Recruiting profiles are different from JOB DESCRIPTIONs, in that they are singularly focused on defining the qualities of candidates best suited to do the work identified in the job description. An effective RECRUITING PROFILE helps recruiters and hiring manager’s source candidates from the right places, recruit them for the right reasons, and hire the one candidate who best fits the full scope of work requirements. It focuses on KEY REQUIREMENTS, both the hard and soft skills needed for success, instead of wasting recruiter time chasing a perfect candidate who may or may not exist. Here’s our list of 25 things recruiters and hiring managers need to know about a job BEFORE they begin the search for candidates. This is a list based on our years of experience supporting countless hiring decisions, paying attention to what works and what doesn’t. THE WORK 1. Why Does this Job Exist? From an organizational perspective why is this job needed?  What is it intended to accomplish/contribute different from the contribution of other jobs on the team? 2. How Will the Employee Spend Their Day? What are the reoccurring tasks the employee will need to perform on a regular/daily basis? How will the employee spend most of their time? Doing what type of work/tasks? 3. Variety. Scope of Work. What is the range of work or variety of tasks that must be performed in order to produce the work product needed?  How varied in terms of content or complexity? How much organization is required to deliver the results needed? 4. Work Cadence. What is the typical pace of work that is required to achieve deadlines? Will the employee be expected to be an accomplished multi-tasker? How frequently are they asked to meet deadlines and what is the impact to others for an employee missing a deadline? 5. Key Deliverables. What are they key outcomes or work products that must be delivered on a regular basis by the person doing this job? What is the impact to the team/organization if the work doesn’t get done? Who/what is impacted? 6. Complexity. How would you describe the level of detail or complexity that goes into the completion of each deliverable/work product? How many factors must be considered before taking action? How much coordination must be done with others? 7. Quality or Quantity? Is the work content or expectations the type that would require an employee to consistently choose between quantity or quality? Or is the balance somewhere in between? 8. Problem Solving/Challenges. What types of problems are typically addressed by this employee? Will the issues that come up tend to be unique or reoccurring requiring application of proven solutions? Will the employee be asked to think outside the box—to come up with something new or innovative, or are more tried and true solutions more valued? 9. Interpersonal Communications. Who and what type of people does this person interact with on a regular basis? How often?  Written? E-mail, etc.? Are there any special circumstances surrounding the people they will communicate with regularly? Styles they need to accommodate? 10. Influence. Persuasion. Negotiations. How often will they be required to influence, persuade or negotiate with others? Will those people tend to be bosses? Peers? Direct reports? THE WORK ENVIRONMENT 11. Decision Making/Autonomy. How many and what kind of decisions will this person make at the direction of others? How many and what kind of decisions are they expected to make on their own? 12. Change. Would you describe the work environment as organized, structured and stable, or in frequent flux, subject to change without a lot of notice or preparation? How are changes handled in the work environment? 13. Training/Mentorship Availability and Requirements. What level of training, mentorship or hands on instruction will be available to the candidate? How much of the work to be performed will require company-specific training? 14. Teamwork. Collaborations. How often will the employee be asked to collaborate with others on getting work done, to make decisions?  To put team goals ahead of personal goals? 15. Learning. To deliver the outcomes required, how often and in what ways will they be required to learn something new?  Are they required to do most of their learning on their own, or how is new knowledge introduced into your work environment? 16. Management Style. Goal Setting. How tightly will the employee be managed with respect to goals, expectations and performance tracking? How will goals and expectations be communicated? Measured? What are the consequences of below target performance? 17. Management Style.Feedback and Support. How often and in what ways will they be given feedback? How available is their supervisor to answer questions, provide support? KEY REQUIREMENTS 18. Required/Preferred Skills. To deliver the work products required, what skills will be required that can’t be acquired on the job, via training or instruction? What skills would be helpful, but not absolutely necessary? Will the required skills be needed at the entry, intermediate, or advanced levels? 19. Required/Preferred Knowledge. To deliver the work products required, what knowledge or subject matter expertise is needed? Preferred? What components of the knowledge required can be taught or learned on the job rather than via formal education/training? 20. Required/Preferred Work Experience. To deliver the work products required, how much actual on the job experience is required? Preferred? Is it possible that a fast tracker could have acquired the skills or knowledge needed with less work experience?  Are there some specific types of work experiences more valuable or relevant than others? 21. Required/Preferred Personal Qualities Important to Success. What are the key personal qualities that a candidate needs to have in order to be successful? How would you describe the qualities of previous candidates who have been successful in the role? How are those traits different from those who have been unsuccessful 22. Required Certifications/Education. What certifications or licenses are required in order to perform the required job functions? MOTIVATORS 23. Attraction Opportunities. What are some of the special opportunities that will be available to the employee who accepts this job?  Opportunities to learn new things? To advance their career? To make a noticeable contribution? In other words, why would someone want to take this job? Where in their career cycle would the preferred candidate likely be, entry level? Mid/aspirational level? Mastery level? 24. Attraction Elimination Issues. Are there any factors in work content that would eliminate candidates based on certain personal preferences or restrictions? Travel? Availability? Pay rate? Physical working conditions? 25. “Corporate Fit.” How would you describe the “selling features” your company typically uses to recruit and retain its employees? Opportunity for advancement? Pay/Benefits? Entrepreneurial environment? Industry leadership? For a copy of a one page RECRUITING PROFILE which will summarize all of the information needed to focus your search for the right candidate, contact us at infocenter@pacestaffing.com. You can also inquire about additional interviewing guides, tools and checklists that are a part of our HiringSmart Best Practices Series.

Engage Potential Candidates

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 23, 2013

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED Build Candidate Engagement, Engage Potential Candidates, Engage Talented Applicants, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, staffing agencies seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA

You know that your job post provides potential candidates with their first—and sometimes only—contact with your company and your brand. And you know that a well written job post can mean the difference between a vast, highly talented candidate pool and a thin pool with a lower level of average ability. But beyond clarity, honesty, and striking the right tone, what steps can you take to get the best candidates to emotionally engage with this opportunity? Keep these considerations in mind. 1. Encourage daydreaming. If possible, get potential applicants to envision themselves in this position, literally sitting at this desk or working on this job site. The lives they lead in this vision should offer everything they want, whatever that may mean—including glamour, personal reward, new experiences, travel, or any other relevant form of personal satisfaction. 2. Know your target audience. Know what your ideal candidate wants, but more specifically, know what kind of person she’d like to be. Adjust your job post to reflect positively on this goal. 3. Put yourself in her shoes. Remember the last time you were on the job market. Remember the difference between finding a position you felt relatively sure you could tolerate and finding a job post that made your heart beat a little faster. People light up when they get a glimpse of something they truly want, not just something they feel like they should want. 4. Leverage your brand. Even if your company is small and not well known in the larger marketplace, use whatever small leverage you have to grab your candidate’s attention. If you can just inspire a talented candidate to make the two clicks it takes to visit your company’s website, you’re halfway home. (Of course, you’ll need to control what she sees when she visits your site or runs your name through a search engine.) 5. Be ready to draw her into the application process. When your ideal candidate submits a resume, she should get an instant message letting her know her application was received. From that moment forward, she should be treated with respect and kept informed of all relevant timelines throughout the selection process. Turn a great first impression (your job post) into a great second, third, and fourth impression. For more information on how to grab and hold the attention of highly talented potential applicants, reach out to the Seattle staffing experts at Pace.

The Search for a Great Recruiter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 28, 2013

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED job offer letters, job recruiters seattle, Qualities Of Great Recruiters, recruiters in seattle, recruiters seattle, recruiters seattle wa, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle, The Search For a Great Recruiter, What To Look For In A Recruiter

A sharp, highly experienced recruiter can be an invaluable member of your hiring team. And establishing an ongoing relationship with a well-connected recruiting firm may be the best hiring move you ever make. But even as your recruiters head out into the world to represent your company and help you find the strongest candidates, you’ll still need to screen and select those recruiters based on your own specific staffing needs. So how can you identify the recruiters and firms that are likely to bring the best results? Here are a few signs to look for before you make a commitment. 1. Great recruiters are great listeners. Your positions come with very specific requirements and skill demands, and in order to understand these requirements, a recruiter has to possess a basic understanding of how your company works and how each position contributes to the larger picture. When you sit with your recruiter and explain a specific role, does he or she listen closely, ask the right questions and remember details accurately? 2. Great recruiters are well connected. They’re socially savvy, tech savvy, and have wide professional networks at their disposal, both online and off. They’re an active presence at industry events, they have long lists of contacts and vast online footprints, and they’re known and respected wherever they go. 3. Great recruiters are experienced. The best staffing and recruiting firms have been in the business for a few years and have had plenty of opportunities to get the lay of the land. They’re also staffed with seasoned recruiters who can share with each other what they’ve learned. A team of five recruiters with an average of ten years in the field should amount to a firm with fifty collective years of experience. 4. Great recruiters can tell the difference between “impressive” and “relevant” credentials. They know how to weigh technical skill sets against qualities like adaptability and resilience. They know that “fit” often matters more than any other quality, and they know how to spot red flags and investigate them further in order to protect their clients from expensive mistakes. 5. Great recruiters use proven methods. They rely on efficient phone screening techniques, first round interviewing models, skill testing, and background checks to separate the best candidates from the rest of the pack. 6. Most important, great recruiters are fast and accurate communicators. When employers need them, they’re there. They answer messages quickly, source and screen applicants on tight deadlines, and make the needs of their clients a top priority. If you’re looking for a top-notch Seattle staffing team, arrange a consultation with the experts at Pace. We can help you find the right people with the skills you need to move your company forward.

In Pursuit of Accountability

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 26, 2013

0 * NOT CATEGORIZED Contract Employees, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, Managers, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Industry, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Employees

Despite the countless management and leadership books written about the virtue of accountability, according to most employees there are significant gaps between management’s knowing and doing when it comes to accountability. Most employees don’t rate their organizations highly in terms of their ability to hold individuals or teams accountable. While they believe they are personally accountable, they don’t always believe that others in their organization are held to the same “high” standards. Well intended managers can oftentimes fuel these perceptions. Excuses like “they’re new to the job,” or “I probably wasn’t clear in my directions,” can sound more like “permission” to underperform or the avoidance of a difficult conversation, than the commitment to fairness it might otherwise represent. The opposite track, an organization being too quick to act or terminate an employee whose results are off target (i.e. “John’s outcomes are awful. He needs to go,”) can often keep a team from looking at larger issues in market conditions or organizational performance that aren’t about John’s performance. Additionally, a manager who is slow to coach and fast to terminate can erode an organization’s commitment to its employees. Management 101 teaches us that by helping our employees to become more accountable, we make our teams more productive. The opposite is also true. When management drifts away from the habits of “accountability,” a culture of finger pointing, blame, and gossip often takes hold. Issues in productivity and outcomes, almost always follow. Unfortunately, individual managers—senior, middle, and entry level leadership roles—don’t always understand their personal role in an organization’s “accountability culture.” While most managers believe they do a good job of holding their team members accountable, it’s sometimes difficult to see how others are doing the same. When the going gets tough and results are off target, even high performing managers can look to “others”—a better resourced competitor, an underperforming colleague, an overly demanding customer, or an insensitive senior management—as the reason for their own subpar outcomes.  Anytime a manager takes their eyes off their own performance and looks for explanations of outcomes outside themselves, the organization’s “culture” of accountability suffers. In her book Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., says that, for a business to create an accountability culture management accountability must be 100 %—each manager must become “personally accountable for their impact on people, even if others accept zero accountability.” Dr. Malandro is clearly stating the management challenge; it always has to start within. Managers also need to understand that the drift in an organization’s accountability culture typically happens slowly, then suddenly. While accountability is an intellectually simple concept, in reality it is both emotionally and behaviorally complex. For managers who take their mission to develop people seriously, they must find that just-right balance between holding people accountable and empowering them to make mistakes. Their goal is to help employees work from their strengths, while making sure their weaknesses don’t knock them over. Even a well thought out decision to terminate an underperforming but high impact employee, requires careful organizational planning that almost always involves others—which means that many accountability decisions can’t be made in a vacuum, outside the context of the team and its customers. This is a long way of saying that the balancing acts that in their aggregate reflect how you or your company is managing “accountability” are as easy and straight forward as others would like. It is my belief that a fully accountable culture represents an aspirational vision that is rarely fully achieved, but can produce a whole lot of small but “made a difference” successes along the way. So how do individual managers go about creating a culture of accountability? We have a handful of suggestions, starting with a good reflection of where you are now. Go through some of the checklists we’ve provided below and rate yourself on a scale of 1 -5—with 5 being the highest of the rankings and 1 the lowest. How are you managing your own team?

Self-Rating

1. CLEAR EXPECTATIONS. Does each team member know specifically what is being expected of them? How their work will be measured and/or evaluated?
2. ONGOING, HONEST FEEDBACK. Do team members regularly get all of the metrics and/or the feedback they need to evaluate their own work? Do they know at all times how I am viewing their work and outcomes?
3. ADDRESSING PERFORMANCE ISSUES. Do I follow up quickly to work more closely with team members whose results are off target? Do I listen carefully for obstacles, and coach them on ways to overcome them? Do I have clear processes in place to make sure that any potentially job threatening issues are escalated clearly and appropriately?
4. INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT. Do I manage each member of my team as an individual, setting individual performance goals and avoiding comparisons with other team members?
5. PLANNING AND FOLLOW UP. When my team and I are discussing options, do I follow up to make sure what work needs to be done and by whom? That my priorities are clear? Do I regularly follow up on promised deadlines or benchmarks so that I physically inspect work in progress to ensure that each team member is completing work as promised?

Total Score

  How are you conducting yourself as a company leader?

Self-Rating

1. PERSONAL ROLE MODELING. When things go wrong, do I walk the talk of personal accountability—avoid making excuses or blaming others over explaining myself? Do I personally model my own “empowerment; engaging my team in ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems,   and make progress?
2. COACHING. DEVELOPING OTHERS. Do I spend enough time coaching others to success, avoiding   getting disappointed or angry when a team member doesn’t “get it?” Do I look for ways for my employees to work from strengths, even if that means some adjustments in how work gets done?
3. TRANSPARENCY. Do I make sure I always work from a plan, making my personal contribution to company goals transparent to my boss and colleagues?
4. WORD CHOICES. Do my word choices set a tone with the team and others of “positive problem solving” around things we can control, rather than focusing too heavily on issues and obstacles we can’t?
5. TEAMMEMBER SUPPORT. Do I always communicate in ways that demonstrate my respect for others, my ability to find value in “different” people, talents and perspectives? Do I avoid conversations with team members or colleagues that are more about gossip than problem solving? Do I listen when issues are brought forward, but avoid lengthy discussions about another team member’s performance?

Total Score

  Are you avoiding the assumptions that can erode the habits of accountability?

Self-Rating

1. Good team members always understand what’s expected of them. Am I mindful that clarifying expectations is an ongoing process?
2. Good team members will automatically self-correct. When a mistake is made or a ball dropped, do I help others determine what they will do differently next   time?
3. Everyone knows what I do/what I’m accountable for. Do I demonstrate daily the transparency in my own work that I want from others?
4. Everyone knows what changes need to be made now. How often am I communicating about change, and what we need to be doing differently?   How clear am I about my team’s priorities?

Total Score

  Accountability is an important element in the work we do to help our clients find and place the right employee for each request we fill—either for a job candidate to be hired by our client directly, a short term temporary or contract assignment, or a complex project level assignment involving full team engagement. We always want to know what each of our employees is accountable to produce—what outcome our client needs them to achieve. One of the important side benefits of “temporary” workers is that their accountabilities can generally be defined in simple terms, “achieve this result in this way, ” but the degree to which our customers can spell out these simple statements, the greater the probability that our employee will perform as expected. Our client’s chances for a successful temporary or contract assignment are directly impacted by the quality of information they can provide to all of their employees up front about their business (the context) and their expectations (the deliverable). NancyWe also encourage our clients to provide their temporary and contract employees with timely feedback relative to those expectations—as early in the assignment as possible and as ongoing as is needed. Many issues in employee performance, particularly in temporary or contract roles, stems from the employees not clearly understanding the client’s expectations. Keep in mind many temporary and contract employees go from assignment to assignment with their client’s expectations changing at each assignment. Early course corrections to clarify your expectations can make a huge difference. If you’d like to discuss any of these editorial comments, feel free to contact me at nancys@pacestaffing.com. I’m Nancy Swanson, Vice President of Partnership Development for the PACE Staffing Network.