Leverage the brain power of employee assessments
By Wendy Sheaffer, Chief Product Officer, The Omnia Group
The final Jeopardy music swelled as the vehicles turned. On the screen at the front of the oversized room, the words appeared, “This is the one source of energy that never runs out.”
We were at Disney’s EPCOT Center, at the very end of the Universe of Energy attraction. Most people were there to see the animatronic dinosaurs, with the “history of energy” lesson in it.
The ride no longer exists; the space is being renovated to house a new attraction for a new generation.
But I still have fond memories of that ride, even in the time towards the end when it was almost empty. In true Disney fashion, the hero was the only one who got the right answer, defeated the rival and was crowned Jeopardy Champion.
The correct answer was, “What is brain power?”
The idea, as presented in the attraction, was that there were pros and cons to each potential energy source, but that humanity’s imagination and intellectual curiosity would continue to drive improvements.
The past year saw all kinds of shortages, from those that made headlines and caused personal stress, such as toilet paper and gasoline, to individual components of various supply chains that shut down entire operations. A shortage of ingredients at Starbucks may seem annoying when you queue to get coffee, but for the supply chain managers, it’s something that can cause sleepless nights as they try to keep their busy locations filled. When it comes to sustaining their business, having oat milk is just as crucial to them as having polysilicon, glass and semiconductor chips to solar panel manufacturers.
Of all the shortages, the most controversial is the labor shortage facing various industries. When you go on social media, everyone has an opinion and it almost always consists of generalized sound bites that do very little to elevate the conversation or solve the underlying problem.
Like most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all situation, and there is no easy solution that will solve the problem overnight. The pandemic may have brought things to a head, but underlying issues have been around for a long time. For example, the restaurant industry warned that a decline in the number of culinary students dropping out of school to work in fine dining, coupled with a rapid expansion of new dining concepts, would spell disaster for kitchens across the country. They have also said that low wages and uneven tipping policies have contributed to a decline in the number of people applying for jobs as servers and front-of-the-house employees. None of this is new talk, but industry shutdown and/or massive capacity reductions during the pandemic have put many workers in a position to leave and never come back. This means that those restaurants have to find replacements at a time when everyone else is trying to get staff as well.
The question of how to recruit the best candidates for the job has been around almost ever since companies started hiring people linked to employee retention issues, with as many different conclusions as there were challenges to be solved.
What the most successful long-term solutions all have in common is someone who thinks outside the box. The trick is to not only think about the challenge directly in front of you, but also about changing the dynamic that led you to that edge in the first place.
These out-of-the-box solutions can be complex tasks such as reshaping your supply chain and restructuring departments to maximize work/life flexibility for your workforce. You could certainly dig deep into the weeds and find ways to work smarter instead of working harder. Or maybe you’re going for something more straightforward, like recruiting top candidates and learning how to unleash their full potential over the course of their working life.
Before looking for an outside candidate to fill a vacant position, sometimes it’s best to look internally. When I say that, most people will assume I mean “look to fill the position with someone who is already in your organization”. What is true. Growing your internal talent into leadership positions is the best scenario for everyone involved. In this case, however, I was specifically thinking of looking at people who are already in your organization and can serve as a template to be successful.
If Kevin is one of the best sales consultants you’ve ever had, it only makes sense to look at the qualities that make him so good at his job. This is where behavioral assessment tools, such as the Omnia Assessment, can be a game changer. The assessment identifies 17 personality types and helps you identify the best ways to continuously develop that potential. When you can use Kevin as your benchmark for future applicants for that position and measure their attributes side-by-side, you have a huge advantage when it comes to hiring your next sales consultant.
The same goes for every single function within your organization. Kevin in sales, Kaitlin in parts, Gabe in IT… whoever it is that makes your job a little easier every day just by being there. Knowing what it is about these personalities who work so well in their job responsibilities, and how to identify someone similar, will give you the key to unlocking your next potential superstar employee.
You also have the opportunity to see where other people’s challenge areas might lie and develop best practices to get the best out of everyone. There are some who say that if you are not naturally attracted to a certain activity, you should not do it. But when it comes to work, it’s often necessary for that square peg to fit into the round hole every now and then. If someone isn’t naturally drawn to multitasking, it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of doing it. They may need a little more structure around prioritizing those tasks. Likewise, one can avoid chatter, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have purposeful conversations to educate clients on topics where they are a subject matter expert. Sometimes the most reserved personality types are the best customer service specialists.
By understanding the talent that already exists within your company, you will have a better idea of the type of candidates you should look for when it comes to filling a new position. And most importantly, you’ll get a roadmap to support them and maximize their growth within the company. Employees who feel valued and supported tend to stick around for the long haul and reinvest to help the business continue to thrive, even in difficult times. They put more time and imagination into their work every day.
In an ever-changing world, there are no guarantees of success. Today’s business titans may very well die out just as much as the dinosaurs themselves, their sanctuaries renovated into the next big thing for the new generation of consumers.
Experts predicted many of the supply problems and staff shortages, using the available data, years before they occurred. The companies that stayed ahead of those trends were best equipped to weather the storm, even during an unprecedented pandemic. Having a tool like the Omnia Assessment gives you advance data so you have the right people to make the right decisions when you need them most.
One thing is clear, however: as long as there are people willing to apply that “brain power” to hiring and retention decisions, there is no shortage that cannot be overcome.
Wendy Sheaffer is Chief Product Officer at The Omnia Group, an employee assessment firm that provides the power of behavioral insight to help organizations drive successful hires and develop exceptional employees. Wendy is a subject matter expert in using Omnia’s 8 Columns as a tool to make more informed hiring and development decisions and to effectively engage staff. She works directly with clients and Omnia employees to gain a better understanding of how personality data can be used to achieve business goals. For more information visit OmniaGroup.com, email [email protected] or call 800.525.7117.