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giously. Here are some of the most effective components that these compa-
nies use:

• Train all hiring managers in ˜˜behavioral interviewing.™™ This means that
the company must ¬rst make the commitment to thoroughly analyze
each job in terms of critical success factors, and have hiring managers
develop questions that require applicants to respond with stories of
how they demonstrated those success factors in their past experi-
ences. Most behavioral questions will be asked in the form of, ˜˜Tell
me about a time when you . . .™™”as in, ˜˜Tell me about a time when
you had to deal with a dif¬cult customer and how you did it.™™ If an
applicant does not have a story to tell, it is quite dif¬cult to make one
up on the spot. Well-quali¬ed applicants can usually come up with
illustrative stories to tell right away, while unsuitable candidates
The principle that makes this method effective is that actual past
behavior accurately predicts future behavior. Companies considering
use of behavioral interviewing should realize that it requires disci-
pline for a manager who is in a hurry to ¬ll a position to slow down
enough to create behavioral questions and remember to conduct a
behavioral interview with every hire. Human resource staff can be
valuable partners by assisting with the pre-employment job analysis
and the preparation of behavioral questions.
• Use multiple interviewers. The chances of hiring the right person go up
when several interested parties are invited to participate in interview-
ing candidates. The interviewing team typically consists of peers and
others with whom the new hire will have frequent interaction. It is
a good way to involve team members in an important decision proc-
ess while also getting valuable input and differing perspectives from
those with a vested interest in seeing the right person hired.
Whether done by having serial one-on-one interviews or with the
interviewee facing a panel, it is highly recommended that the inter-
viewing team meet beforehand to plan what questions will be asked,

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how, and by whom. Afterward, the team will need to meet and
discuss each candidate as well.

At Whole Foods the Whole Team Hires
At Whole Foods Markets, teams”and only teams”have the power
to approve new hires for full-time jobs. Store leaders screen candi-
dates, then recommend them for jobs on a speci¬c team. After the
team interviews the candidate, a two-thirds vote is required for a hire,
then the candidate doesn™t become a full-time employee until after
a thirty-day trial period. Teams routinely reject new hires before the
thirty days are up if they turn out not to have the right stuff. Not
everyone ¬ts the Whole Foods pro¬le, which is people who are ˜˜seri-
ous about food, have a knack for pleasing customers, and can tolerate
the candid give-and-take that™s necessary for a [workplace] democ-
Another reason Whole Foods team members are so tough on
new hires”the company™s gainsharing program ties directly to team
performance. If team members vote for someone who doesn™t per-
form, their bonuses will be less.11

• Check several references without fail. Many managers do not check refer-
ences because of the time it takes, and because many references are
reluctant to speak for fear of a lawsuit. Still, smart hiring managers
know how to overcome these obstacles and they know that the in-
formation to be gotten is worth taking the extra time. There are
several books that provide tips for better reference-checking, among
them Pierre Mornell™s Hiring Smart! and my earlier book, Keeping the
People Who Keep You in Business.

Engagement Practice 13:
Track Measures of Hiring Success
Many companies track cost per hire, but fewer than 10 percent of compa-
nies track the most meaningful hiring measure of them all”quality of
hire.12 Here are recommended ways of tracking the measure that comes
closest to quantifying the match between person and job:

• Each hiring manager sets quarterly and ¬rst-year performance objec-
tives for the new hire expressed in terms of expected quanti¬able

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

results and, in partnership with human resources, tracks quality of
hire based on the achievement of those results. Some organizations
use the ¬rst-year performance appraisal to track quality-of-hire. How
soon to measure quality of hire may vary from job to job based partly
on expected ramp-up and learning curve.
• Results may be based on customer satisfaction surveys, achievement
of on-schedule results, cost/quality targets, absenteeism rates, and
achievement of targeted quantitative objectives.
• Track ¬rst-year retention rates of all new hires.
• Track employee engagement survey scores of ¬rst-year employees as
a group.
• Each year hiring managers complete quality-of-hire ratings on all
new hires.
• Gather 360-degree feedback ratings on all new hires at the end of
their ¬rst year.

It is recommended that all hiring managers meet with human resources
staff once a year to review quality of hires and to discuss any mistakes made,
lessons learned, new strategies, and plans for improvement.

Best Practices for Engaging and Re-Engaging
Through Job Task Assignment
There is potentially no more powerful motivator than the intrinsic satisfac-
tion to be gained from using one™s motivated talents. Managers can easily
lose sight of this untapped source of motivational power by getting caught
up in extrinsic factors like pay, bonuses, and bene¬ts. Because so many
workers have never had jobs that are inherently satisfying to perform, they,
too, have come to accept external rewards as their due ˜˜compensation™™ for
the trade-off they have made in job satisfaction.
Your job as a manager of people is to get the work done by allowing
the maximum possible use of your employees™ motivated abilities to
achieve targeted results. This is not an easy task because it means taking the
time to get to know each employee™s unique combination of talents. It also
means trying to dole out the available work so that it matches those talents,
which is not always possible to do in a way that is perfectly acceptable to
all, which can be frustrating.
The job of assigning the right tasks to the right talent becomes even

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more dif¬cult when the manager™s own style gets in the way, as when the

• Believes there is only ˜˜one best way™™ to do the job and insists that
the job be done that way.
• Doesn™t trust people to make the right choices to reach the end re-
• Attempts to ˜˜idiot-proof ™™ jobs by over-prescribing exactly how they
will be done through detailed rules, regulations, and procedure man-
• Micro-manages employees because of constant fear that they might
be doing the wrong thing or taking advantage.
• Exerts pressure on the employee to comply with demands instead of
trying to gain voluntary commitment to performance goals (see Fig-
ure 5-1).
• Tries to correct employees™ weaknesses at the expense of developing
their strengths.
• Doesn™t spend time trying to understand employees™ best talents.

Admittedly, there are some jobs where safety, security, and ¬nancial
accuracy dictate that they be done in a certain way, but in most jobs there
is wide berth for the use of an individual™s talent. With that exception,
managers who engage in the above behavior are limiting their own ability
to engage and retain their workers.
Organizations can step in to correct these kinds of management prac-
tices through implementing better processes for selecting managers in the
¬rst place, providing multirater feedback to all managers, training and
coaching managers in better talent identi¬cation and people management

Figure 5-1.
Getting compliance vs. getting commitment.
Compliance Commitment
Manager determines goal priorities. Individual determines goal priorities.
Manager determines performance Manager and individual together
objectives. determine performance objectives.
Manager determines how the task will Individual determines how to perform
be performed. the task.
Manager de¬nes job tasks. Individual de¬nes job tasks.

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

skills, rewarding and recognizing top talent managers, and holding all man-
agers accountable for talent-related objectives.
Here are some practical tools and ideas that managers can use now to
assign tasks so that workers can be more engaged through the use of their
motivated abilities:

Engagement Practice 14:
Conduct ˜˜Entrance Interviews™™ with All New Hires
Meet with the new hires during the ¬rst week on the job with the speci¬c
purpose of uncovering their greatest strengths and talents. Now that the
employee already has the job, you can expect responses to be less calculated
to impress you than when you asked similar questions in the job interview.
Let employees know it is in your best mutual interests to get at the truth
about their talents in order to put them to greatest use. Ask the following
questions, even if you already asked similar questions in job interviews:

What do you consider your greatest strengths?
What do you consider your greatest weaknesses?
Which of your talents was most under-utilized in your last job?
Which of your talents would you most like to use in this job?
Which would you rather work with most”data, people, or things?
How would you like to be challenged in the coming year?
What other goals do you have for yourself in the coming year and beyond?
How often would you like to meet to discuss your progress?
In reading the job description, which activities appeal to your most and
Which of your talents would you most like to develop further?

Be clear that it may not be possible to make use of employees™ talents
in exactly they way they prefer, but at least they will know that is your
intent. Let them know that you value their talents and look forward to
helping them succeed. Invite them to come and let you know if they begin
to feel that their best talents are being underused.

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Engagement Practice 15:
Work to Enrich the Jobs of All Employees
Years ago, job enrichment researchers Richard Hackman and Greg Old-
ham identi¬ed ¬ve factors that contribute to job enrichment:

1. Skill Variety: A desired mix of skills and activities is needed to carry
out the work.
2. Task Completion: The job is undertaken as a whole, allowing the
employee to complete an identi¬able piece of work from beginning
to end with a visible outcome.
3. Task Signi¬cance: The job has a recognizable impact on the overall
mission or on other people inside or outside the organization.
4. Autonomy: The job offers substantial freedom, independence, and
discretion in scheduling the work and in choosing the procedures
to be used in carrying it out.
5. Feedback: The job provides feedback”by the observable progress
and results of the job itself, or from customers, coworkers, and man-

Hackman and Oldham™s research yielded strong evidence that employ-
ees display high levels of self-motivation, work satisfaction, performance,
customer service, commitment, and retention when their jobs have all ¬ve
of these elements.
Some jobs are more easily enriched than others, but it can be surpris-
ingly easy to implement a change that has signi¬cant impact. A houseclean-
ing ¬rm, for example, started allowing workers to switch jobs as they
moved from house to house (skill variety). This meant instead of having
one individual vacuum all day long, they would swap jobs with the win-
dow-washer at the next house. After instituting this change, the company
noticed increased productivity and retention among the workers.
Task completion, task signi¬cance, and autonomy can all be increased
by one management decision, as when a manager decides to give sales or
customer service people the authority and resources to resolve customer
problems on the spot instead of passing them on to one person, then an-
other. Customers seem to appreciate this as well.
Feedback can be increased simply by starting to have more frequent
meetings with employees to give feedback on their performance, or by
sharing customer satisfaction surveys, pro¬tability ¬gures, production re-

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

sults, and any number of other data now made available via company intra-
nets or through increasingly sophisticated information systems. One high-
tech manufacturing company even had each of its production teams stamp
its own phone number on every product shipped from the plant. The
phone calls received from customers who had problems with a product
served as a highly direct feedback mechanism that also served to motivate
workers to achieve higher levels of quality.
Here are a few other ways to enrich jobs:

• Combine several small tasks performed by separate people into one
more ful¬lling job.
• Place workers into teams or natural work units organized by the
types of clients, industries, geographies they serve.
• Gradually give more autonomy to workers by delegating ¬rst one
task, then another from a higher level job, or a manager™s job, to
workers at lower levels.
• Establish more direct contact between workers and customers.
• Create teams and task forces with the power to solve problems or
create new products, services, or mini-enterprises.
• Allow people doing stand-alone tasks in various locations to connect


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