Are Blind Interviews the Future of Recruiting?

Blind interviews

I have read a couple of articles recently talking about the future of recruiting. A few of them mentioned blind interviews and how more and more, companies will remove identifiable data from resumes, applications and any other pre-face to face interview form. The data removed could include name, gender, age or years of experience (easily figured out by dates of work). The goal of blind interviews is to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process. This article in FastCompany says that big firms like Deloitte and HSBC are already doing this.

Studies have shown that a workplaces with a diverse workforce often perform better. Utilizing blind interviews is certainly one way to increase the diversity of the applicant pool that is eventually brought in for interviews.

But they don’t fix the bias issue once the individual shows up for the interview.

I firmly believe that if someone has the propensity to discriminate based on age, gender, hair color, height, race or some other ridiculous reason, then they are going to do it regardless of when they see these things in the interview process. And I believe that even though the bias happens when they see someone, it can still be an unconscious bias.

So blind interviews may diversify the interview pool, but work will still have to be done to overcome unconscious bias to diversify the workforce.

That isn’t to say that I think blind interviews are a bad idea, I don’t. And I do think they will become an increasing component of recruiting strategies in the future, especially as the EEOC cracks down on unfair hiring practices. I would just caution anyone who thinks that blind recruiting is going to fix their unconscious bias problems.

It isn’t.

It will be essential to combine training and ongoing diversity efforts with blind recruiting in order to really make an impact in that area.

Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo


Who Owns the Burden of Clear Communication

clear communication

One thing I really appreciate in leaders is clear and direct communication. I like knowing exactly what is on their mind, understanding exactly what it is they are asking of me and moving forward with whatever we are working on ensuring we are on the same page. Even if the conversation is difficult or heated. Even if the words aren’t always the nicest. Even if voices are raised and tempers flare a little. As long as the person is clear and not being passive aggressive or beating around the bush, I appreciate clear communication.

Unfortunately, it rarely happens.

How many times have you walked out of a meeting and thought, “now what is he is asking me to do?” Or sat in the meeting and felt your head spinning because the leader was talking in circles and you weren’t sure in what direction they were heading. I always go back to an anecdote a colleague shared about another once, “talking to him is like driving 10,000 miles and never leaving the driveway”.

So who’s fault is that?

More than in any other role, it is imperative that leaders communicate clearly. That they leave no question unanswered. That they ensure that when people leave the meeting or conversation, they know what is expected. At the same time, it is imperative that the employee ask clarifying questions. That they seek to fully understand and talk out any issues they see with what the leader is asking them to do.

Which is why the burden of clear communication falls on both of them.

It is fair to say that leaders share more of the burden. They need to speak clearly and directly. They need to frame their words in a way that the listener can hear without emotion. They need to create a safe environment where employees can ask questions and not be reprimanded. They need to have the patience to explain something multiple times in multiple ways until someone gets it. They need to avoid the tendency to beat around the bush or “nice” things up because feelings might get hurt. The burden on them is to ensure they are clear – and not clear in a way that they understand – but clear in a way that the employee understands. It is a skill to communicate clearly and one that must be worked on daily.

But the employee or listener does hold some responsibility for clear communication. They must be willing to speak up and ask clarifying questions. They must be willing to offer suggestions or explain why what the leader is asking may not work the way they think. They must be willing to appropriately push back when necessary. They must be willing to keep asking the questions until they are sure they understand what is being communicated. And that have to have the emotional intelligence to not take things personally if the leader gets frustrated.

Communicating is hard right?

It takes concerted effort to do it well. It takes deliberate thought and purpose. It takes a leader and employee who want to get it right. It takes constant effort.

Unfortunately, we are lazy. We want people to read our minds or infer our meaning when we don’t want to say it outright. We have a million words available to use and we use the same 20 over and over. We are shirking our responsibility to be clear because it’s easier.

And we are only making things more difficult…..

Photo Credit


How to Out the Bosses Favorite and Keep Your Job

boss's favorite

While conducting a recruiting workshop at ILSHRM an attendee had a situation that caused her to seek out advice. Her story, as they often are, is one that probably everyone has dealt with at least once in their career. I would venture a guess that a large portion of people are dealing with it right now. See if this rings a bell.

Family owned business.

The bosses have their favorites (some who aren’t even family).

At least one of those favorites is a complete slacker and everyone but the boss knows it.

If the boss is given feedback about their favorite they ignore or make excuses.

The rest of the staff is left pulling their hair out.

The attendee, being the HR Manager, has to deal with all of the complaints from staff and everyone else but the boss about the slacker. Any time she takes information, even concrete proof, it is met with dismissal and the blatant choice to ignore the situation and treat this employee different.

Pretty common right? And yet, it being common doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Since we were in a recruiting workshop I didn’t want to stop and focus too much time on her issue, but encouraged attendees who had dealt with the issue in the past to catch her after class and share their experience. I hope they did and now I’ll share my advice.

If there is one thing I have learned it my career it is that the truth does come out. It isn’t the most comforting of words but if you’ve been in the business world for long you probably know there is truth to that. Eventually, the employee will do something even the CEO can not avoid. Eventually another highly valued employee will threaten to leave simply because of that employee and the CEO will have a choice to make. Eventually, the CEO is going to have to face the music.

Until then, each and every employee has a choice to make. They can choose to stay knowing that this employee will be treated differently or they can look for another job. If they are in a position to do so, they should continue to bring up issues to the CEO or the employee’s leader. Even if the information falls on deaf ears. Even if the leader refuses to address the issues.

The HR Manager and other senior leaders of the organization should all have an honest conversation with the CEO stating their concerns. The conversation should center around the health of the business and how the continued blind eye could affect employees, customers and future growth.

CEO’s ears usually perk up when you talk about things affecting customers or growth.

Once the conversations have been had, the HR Manager and employees’s leader (if not the CEO) should continue to bring up issues knowing that they may be met with resistance. The HR person should document every instance, every issue and every resistance for their own records – if nothing else than to protect themselves.

That’s my advice, but I bet you have some too. If you have dealt with this or have ideas on how this attendee can deal with it leave them in the comments below so we can all learn new ways of dealing with this fairly common problem.

Photo Credit


The Total Cost of a Bad Hire for a Small Business

cost of a bad hire

While sources may disagree on the exact monetary value of a bad hire, everyone agrees on one thing, they are expensive. Whether the cost be 5 times the salary or 30% of the first years salary, bad hires cost companies every single year.

And that cost includes more than money.

A bad hire can cost a company morale, employee engagement, distrust in leadership or the recruiting process and, in some extreme cases, other employees.

And the cost of those things is astronomical.

In a small business that is already running lean, a bad hire can cost time and create inefficiencies that the business can not afford to lose. It can disrupt team dynamic that can be detrimental to continued growth. Since so many employees in a small business end up being customer facing, it could even cost the company clients.

With Gallup continually placing employee disengagement well over 70%, a bad hire can do irreparable damage. What’s more, the effects of a bad hire can last long after the employee has left the company.

Small businesses who hire fast with little forethought into the process or person that would best fit in with the team can struggle with bad hires. It is important small business leaders have a thorough recruitment process that consistently assesses both for skill set and personality fit. Leaders should be trained on proper interview techniques that will allow them to make an informed decision about the overall fit of a candidate. Onboarding and training should be prioritized, even in small businesses to ensure that an employee gets off on the right foot.

Even with all of that bad apples can still slip through. When that happens it is absolutely imperative that leadership act quickly. Address any disciplinary issues right away and if the time comes to let the employee go, do so swiftly and firmly.

So many of my clients go through what I call rebuilding periods. Times when they realize that have to remove several bad hires from the team and almost start over. It is never fun or easy. They often wish they had taken the time to follow a better process the first time around.

It isn’t difficult to put a process in place, train leaders and focus on onboarding and training. It takes a little bit of time, but that time can save the company so much that leaders would be foolish to ignore it.

Photo Credit


Developing Small Business Leaders When You Don’t Know How

How to Develop Leaders

Leadership development is crucial for any business. I will fight anyone who disagrees to the death. Ok maybe not to the death, but I will argue the point until I just can’t anymore. Leaders, regardless of how long they have been in a leadership role, need development.



New Ideas.


I wrote a post on LinkedIn a few weeks back asking if we knew everything we need to know about leadership. The title is a little tongue in cheek, but the idea is genuine. There may be nothing new or revolutionary coming out soon about leadership, but that doesn’t mean leaders have nothing to learn. And it certainly doesn’t mean they don’t need refresher courses.

Trust me, they do. Even you. Even me. Definitely me.

But how do you develop leaders when you don’t know how? When you aren’t sure what kinds of programs are beneficial or when you have no budget?

There is certainly no shortage of information on leadership development programs on the internet, but I find that the best programs are ones designed by the leaders themselves…or at least designed around their wants and needs.

The first step in designing any leadership development program is to ask the leaders what types of information they would like to receive. What topics are they interested in? What areas of leadership have they always wanted more info about? What public leaders do they look up to and want to learn from? Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure you are designing programs that will keep their interest and actually meet the intended goal – to develop them further.

The second step involves keeping in mind that leadership development programs do not have to be formal or fancy to be effective. I have clients who I send a weekly email to with blog posts from public leaders the group looks up to. We talked about building a leadership development program and for now, this weekly reading list is the best we can do.

And for now it’s enough.

Blogs, articles from well respected sites, webinars and books are all inexpensive ways to get leaders more and more information without making it to difficult on anyone. Add discussion topics or hold a discussion group and now the information can be expounded on in ways that actually make a difference to the company.

Many HR and business leaders hold off on creating leadership development programs because they think they aren’t qualified to create one or aren’t capable of facilitating leadership development classes. The reality is you don’t need all of that to help leaders develop. Large programs are great and worth it when time and budget allow, but sometimes the smallest of programs can make the difference the company needs.

Photo Credit


Recognizing Burnout in Employees and What to Do About It


Regardless of how well we enjoy our job, all of us have experienced burnout. Whether it be because we are overworked and under appreciated or because we are bored and under stimulated, the effects of burnout can be detrimental to our job performance and career longevity.

In small businesses where employees are wearing more hats than they want to be, burnout can happen very quickly. Working in a startup or small business environment where every day is a fight to build something sustainable can weigh on even the most dedicated of employees.

It is widely assumed that employees dealing with burnout may just need some time off. That could be a fix, but in most cases, the problem is deeper and if it isn’t addressed, both the employee and the employer will suffer.

The signs of burnout can be fairly obvious. An employee is suddenly stressed and on edge. Their work performance may suffer and when addressed, they show little concern. They are suddenly cynical or may seem depressed. They may fly off the handle easily or not be excited by new wins in the business that would have previously thrilled them. When this occurs in otherwise great employees, burnout may be to blame.

Leaders have tremendous influence in employee burnout. They can add to it or help alleviate through their words and actions. If employees are experiencing burnout there are a few things leaders can do to help bring great employees back to their original selves.

Check Their Workload
The biggest influence over an employee’s feelings of burnout is typically their workload. If open positions have created more work for current employees or a new project has doubled the work of an employee, action should be taken to ease the workload. Maybe a temporary employee can be brought in or work can be shifted more evenly among all employees. Even if the solution costs the business money in the short term, it is better than the loss of a great employee in the long run.

Check Your Communication
Are you having regular meetings with the employee? Are you sharing your appreciation for the work they are doing? Are expectations clear and is praise frequent? Employees are better equipped to survive overly stressful times if they feel they have an open line of communication and the support and appreciation of their boss.

Check Stress Relievers
Are employees taking lunch or are they eating at their desk? Are they taking a few minutes to get some fresh air? Are they working round the clock or are they going home and signing off for the night to take a breather? In times of high stress, it will behoove all leaders to police break time a little heavier and ensure employees are stepping away for a few minutes to catch their breath. Employees who never leave their desk and burn the candle at both ends are going to burnout quickly and stay that way.

Check Your Leadership
The harsh reality is that the reason for burnout could be you. There may be something you are doing that is making it impossible for employees to enjoy their work. It may be time to have honest conversations with employees about how you work together and adjust accordingly. Training classes, extra reading or anything you can do to ensure your leadership skills are at their sharpest during this time will help ensure you are helping the problem and not causing it.

Burnout is going to happen. With the right focus it can be a temporary setback. Leaders who pay attention and react as soon as they see signs can help employees through periods of burnout. Those who don’t will likely lose great employees and create more work for everyone else.

Photo Credit


Employee Referral Programs for Tight Budgets


Even with the inclusion of more and more social networking and non-traditional recruiting methods into business recruiting strategy, employee referrals remain one of the top sources of qualified candidates across companies of all sizes. There is no higher compliment than a high functioning employee referring an individual they know can contribute well to the team.

For that reason employee referral programs are still offered by companies from startups to large conglomerates. They are still sighted by recruiters as a top source and companies are always looking for ways to make them more effective.

Most employee referral programs offer cash as the reward for referring a candidate who goes on to be hired. The payout may be staggered depending upon tenure of the new employee. Some programs also allow for payout to the new employee themselves in addition to the referring employee. While cash is often considered King when it comes to employee perks, there are other offerings that may be as motivating especially for businesses on tight budgets.

Great workplaces receive employee referrals because they are great workplaces and the reward for doing so is just an added bonus. So an important piece of any employee referral program is ensuring the workplace is a place that employees want to refer into.

Additionally, it is important to share with employees the benefits of referring colleagues. Employees who understand they have an opportunity to help build the workforce around them and decide who works along side them are more likely to share referrals even if they do not get a reward for doing so.

For companies who want to offer a benefit, but do not have the budget to include cash there are a few perks that may work. In my ILSHRM workshop a few weeks back I asked the audience what they offer outside of cash and here are a few things they came up with.

Time Off
A few companies offered additional time off for a referral. The time off ranged from one day to an entire week depending upon role and how long the new employee stayed with the company.

Gift Cards
Other companies offered gift cards for movies, restaurants or other popular outings in the area. The gift cards ranged in amount and level of employee referred.

Prize Drawings
For a client referral program that I created a few months back, we decided to put the entire budget into one large prize that employees could enter to win rather than individual rewards for each employee referral. We felt the employee population would take to this better than smaller rewards. And we were right. The ultimate prize was an all expense paid weekend getaway for the employee and one person of their choosing. The company paid for a Friday off, flights to their chosen US destination and covered all expenses associated with the trip. The prize went over very well and employee referrals increased dramatically in the time period of the contest.

Most employees would be more than happy to refer a colleague into a great place to work. Having incentives in place to do so should be just an added bonus. The smallest of businesses and the tightest of budgets can offer something that will remind and encourage employees to refer as often as possible.

Once the program is up and running, ensuring employees know about it and are reminded of it often will keep those referrals coming in and aide the recruiting process tremendously.

Does your business offer referral perks other than cash or those listed? Share your program in the comments below so we can all share in the brainstorm of ideas.

Managing HR in a Small Business? Receive a weekly email with blog posts and exclusive contests just for you!

* indicates required

Send me information about…..

Photo Credit


A Well Liked Leader is Not Always a Good Leader

well like leader

Great personalities often draw people to them. Like a magnet, even the most standoffish of personalities can be drawn to highly likeable leaders. There is something about them that is disarming. You can’t help but be a bit captivated by their presence.

And when that person is a leader, employees often see them as the shining light in an otherwise dull day.

If there is one thing I have learned throughout my career it is that being well liked doesn’t always equal being a good leader. Likeability, while a characteristic of leadership, is not the only factor needed for good leaders. In fact, some of the most influential leaders of our time would probably not be considered very likeable.

You’ve heard of Steve Jobs right?

When you have a leader who is well liked but under performing or exhibiting troublesome behavior, it can be difficult to deal with the individual because of public opinion. Terminating that leader seems nearly impossible due to the backlash and hit that employee morale could take.

And yet, sometimes it is absolutely necessary.

The role of leaders, especially those at the very top, is not to ensure that every employee likes them. It is to ensure that the business is running effectively. Poor leaders, even those who are well liked, are not helping, and are often hindering the business. Keeping them on simply because firing them will piss a few employees off is only going to compound matters in the end. Eventually they will have to be terminated and doing so long after the behavior or performance starts only leaves questions around why it was tolerated for so long and is now no longer acceptable.

And that breaks trust and confidence in the remaining leaders.

Leadership isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be. Tough decisions have to be made every day. The decision to discipline, demote or terminate a well liked, highly visible leader can be one of the most difficult, but when handled properly and with good reason, employees will eventually see that it was the right choice to make. It may take time, but accepting hard decisions as being right often do.

Have you dealt with this in your workplace? I would love to hear how it played out. Did the well liked leader hang on longer than they should? Was there any backlash when they were terminated? Share with the group so we can all learn together.

Photo Credit


California Retirement Proposal and Getting Ahead of the Law


I have spent most of my career in environments where the majority of employees live paycheck to paycheck. Programs offered by the company to help employees save, go to college or spend money on the future in any way were underutilized in favor of programs that helped employees just get through the week. When I worked in call centers, the biggest perks were gas cards and cold hard cash, anything that helped them pay their day to day bills.

So saving for retirement was never top of mind.

California (surprise, surprise) is now mandating those same workers to think differently. At least in a sense. In new legislation, California will be requiring employees in employers of more than five employees who do not offer a retirement plan to contribute to a state ran retirement program. Of course employees have the ability to opt out but if I’m reading all of the information regarding the program correctly, employers will auto enroll them and employees will have to take extra steps to change the contribution, of 3%, or to opt out completely.

As with most things in California, I appreciate the goal, not sure I agree with the method.

There is nothing, yet, requiring employers to contribute to the plan. Their only obligation is to ensure employees are enrolled and have the information necessary to change, cancel or access their funds. The reports estimate that roughly 6 million workers in California do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. While those employees could save for retirement in other ways they typically don’t.

The legislation will roll out in phases affecting the largest corporations first and reportedly giving smaller organizations three years to get ready. I might be missing something here, but other than communication to employees and a way to ensure the deductions are taken and forwarded to the appropriate state agency, I’m not sure what their is to get ready for. Any payroll provider worth it’s salt will be able to integrate this fairly easily. Only those companies who process payroll independently may have some work to do, but I doubt it takes three years.

If employers want to get ahead of the new law before it officially rolls out they could start educating employees about the importance of retirement and the opportunity they will have once the law rolls out. They should also check with their payroll provider about how difficult integrating the deductions will be. The best thing to do to stay ahead of this new law is to make sure you are keeping up with the updates so you are prepared when the timelines roll out.

Of course all employers who offer 401(k) programs already are exempt from this new requirement.

Out of my California employers, all of whom have 100 employees or less, only two do not offer 401(k) programs. I’m anxious to see how their employee population, mostly non-exempt, paycheck to paycheck workers, embrace this new legislation. Typically, anything that takes less money out of their pocket now is not looked upon favorably even if it is going to help them later down the road.

What do you think of the legislation? Do you foresee employees embracing it or declining because they do not want extra money taken out of their paychecks? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Want articles like this and other compliance focused information delivered to your inbox? Join our mailing list.

* indicates required

Send me information about…..

Photo Credit


The “Hire the Person then Create the Role” Recruiting Strategy


I have read several times about a hiring strategy Richard Branson has used quite often in his many businesses. It is one where if he meets an individual he likes and feels can add value to the team, he hires them even if there isn’t a role open.

It is no secret that Mr. Branson believes in putting employees first and he talks often about how he believes that the right people are the key to his success. Therefore, if he meets someone who he feels is going to get the business where it needs to go, he hires them and then worries about the exact role they will perform later.

A completely different strategy than 99% of businesses out there.

And with good reason. I mean, this is Sir Richard Branson we are talking about. A guy who has more than enough budget to carry a few extra payroll dollars until the exact role opens up. A guy who seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to business. Certainly it works for him because it’s him, but it couldn’t work for real businesses….and definitely not small businesses.

Or could it?

I always say that small businesses can do anything that big business can do, they simply have to know how to scale. They may not have the budget or the resources that their larger counterparts enjoy, but they can scale the process down to the budget and resources they have. While Richard Branson may have the ability to walk down the street and hire anyone he wants and have the ability to pay them, smaller businesses would have to be more selective.

But what if you did come across someone who you knew could impact your business in a significant way. What if you did have the budget to add them to the payroll even though you didn’t have a defined role initially? What if they could join the team, you could get a feel for their strengths and then define the role around that? Imagine the impact defining the role around a person’s strengths could have.

Of course it does take strong intuition to be able to do this. I have to wonder if Mr. Branson has ever done this and then regretted it. I have read that he doesn’t do this on a whim, but takes the time to get to know a person before making an offer. He waits until he feels certain, but doesn’t wait on a role to open up.

I find the concept fascinating and wonder if any of you, especially any of you in startup or small business environments have experienced it. How did it go? How did you eventually define the role? What made the person a must hire in the first place? I would love to talk to anyone who has used this method of hiring. I would even write a follow up article at a later date.

Leave me a note in the comments below and let’s connect so we can all learn how we might be able to use this method.

Photo Credit