Friday, July 31, 2009

Chapter 1: Recruiting Quality People

“One of the greatest contemporary challenges in law enforcement is recruiting and retaining quality employees.”

The system of building loyalty in employees starts at the recruitment and application stage where departments begin demonstrating and articulating expected standards. One of the greatest contemporary challenges in law enforcement is recruiting and retaining quality employees. Comparing a similar challenge within the private sector, a regional recruiting manager for a large car rental company says the initial interview stage is the most important component, because it is where you begin peeling off the layers to determine if an applicant is a good fit into your organizational structure. This recruiter uses interviewing techniques that establish consistency in the potential employability of the applicant. He says that more and more companies are moving towards “Behavioral Interviewing”, which asserts that past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. He uses real-life questions to determine how an applicant may have handled certain scenarios in the past. He says that unless there has been a break in patterned behavior (i.e., through training, a personal crisis or some other life-altering event), the applicant will handle current and future situations the same as he has handled past situations. The break in patterned behavior may come about through crisis situations or training that has impacted employees enough to modify their behavior.

This recruiter also says, “The reason companies are struggling to find qualified employees is because they typically do not put a whole lot of time, energy, and resources in their recruitment practices.” This goes to the point that whatever a company focuses on will be manifested in its results. Aside from finding quality employees, a structured recruitment program saves time, training, and resources, which would otherwise be wasted. A company in its recruitment and application stage should first determine what qualities it seeks in applicants. Whether it is an entry or managerial position, the company must know what it wants initially. The criteria should be spelled out and described.

Before you can determine if an applicant might be valuable to your company, you must first spell out the characteristics of a valued employee. It will not be sufficient merely to hire someone in a position because they have prior experience. You ultimately want to insure that the person has core competencies that suit your needs. For example, a person might have worked in a sales position for 10 years for your competitor. On the surface, it looks like you are getting a qualified person based on experience. However, when you ask about certain decision-making traits, you find that the applicant does not possess them. He might be married to his previous boss’ daughter and never had any real responsibility. Consequently, his 10 years experience has no validity for the competency you are seeking. In essence, there are three things to remember:

· Make sure you have a good understanding of the position or need you are trying to fill. By hiring this person, what are you trying to accomplish?
· Put interview questions together which relate to your needs. All questions should help you decide whether this person has the skills needed to get the job done.
· Make a decision that the applicant is a good “fit” for the company based on whether the criteria you have outlined has been met.

“In some instances, the high demand for superstars renders them disloyal opting for the department that will give them the most.”

Another challenge for many departments is determining where to find potential applicants. Often departments overlook quality applicants because they desire applicants who are perceived to be the best qualified in terms of skill and expertise. We all want superstars, but quite frankly, superstars are in short supply in all fields. The reality is that you do not need superstars to grow your departments and maintain loyalty. In some instances, the high demand for superstars renders them disloyal opting for the department that will give them the most. Untapped resources can be found in:

· Colleges
· Vocational Schools
· Employment Offices
· High Schools
· Word-of-Mouth

These represent the myriad of places where qualified persons can be found. But you must first decide what your needs are and pursue them accordingly. Often, the most loyal employees are at opposite ends of the spectrum – they are both young and older, and the same motivation may not apply to both groups. The youth want to learn and show that they are willing to accept responsibility and produce. Mature adults want to show that they still have value to produce in a society that often writes them off as employable undesirables.

“First, it is important to understand that people respect and respond to structure and guidance much more than the absence of these factors.”

Once you have created the ideal workplace and have recruited employees who will buy into the direction of your department, it becomes important to put into place a system that will instill loyalty. First, it is important to understand that people respect and respond to structure and guidance much more than the absence of these factors. It has been repeatedly shown that companies and organizations with standards fair better than those companies and organizations that lack them.

On day one, employees should understand the role they play within the organization. Departments should determine the interests of new hires and place them on a career trajectory based on employee interest.  If you walk into any number of grocery stores or fast food restaurants, you see from the outset where the connection between employee service and management objectives is not being met. The consumer almost feels that they are a bother to the employee. Somewhere in the initial process, a correlation has not been drawn between customers frequenting the establishment and corporate viability. Consequently, if customers stop patronizing the business, the store loses profits, the business closes, and the employees lose their jobs. If employees do not have direction as to what’s expected of them, they will resign themselves to complacency and apathy. They will come to work and do the minimum amount of work without any compunction, because there is disconnection in their role within the department as well as long-term goals. This feeling is less pervasive when employees have bought into a department's system and see where their own goals can be actualized. The more employees see their long-term goals being fulfilled, the longer they will stay and prosper within the department.

Essentially, people strive to maintain the investments they make in time and energy rather than low-level commitments. In this case, employees who are willing to give of their time through the application, background checks, internal testing, training, and probationary process will be inclined to remain committed to the department's ideals over a process lacking these safeguards if their self-interests are reciprocated. People have a desire to say, “I made it” through a process that challenges them as well as the system that serves their interests.

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