“Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc. has been featured in the Maddux Business Report for their specialty of helping organizations find the right leaders as Baby Boomers begin to retire. Read the entire story by clicking on Maddux Article on BYA
A SEARCH FIRM/EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
& “Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
The typical search firm/employment agency will present three candidates to a client for consideration.
The presentation of the final three will result from a process consisting of the following elements:
– Candidate generation
Most firms or agencies will rely on their database or network of associates as the first effort to identify potential individuals for consideration. This may be of some help, but typically few individuals are identified through this approach. The fallback position is the placement of advertisements through various venues such as the internet, newspapers, and target market periodicals.
As resumes are received, each is evaluated against the initial working criteria defined by the client. This usually narrows the field rather quickly. The more labor intensive efforts of evaluation are not applied to any candidate at this point, which might aid in narrowing this group further. A second pass of the “interesting” resumes is now done to detect finer nuances and distinctions.
The objective of screening is to identify more than three individuals, but not too many more. For the evaluation phase is the most expensive part of the process.
The mainstay of any search firm or agency’s evaluation strategy is the interview. As an assessment tool the typical job interview is the least reliable, and therefore, the least valid instrument being employed routinely. Years of accumulated research has shown that the typical job interview is only predictive in indicating an individual’s general intelligence level. This should not be surprising. Having a discussion with someone on any topic will allow a general assessment of their intelligence through vocabulary usage and proper grammar.
The typical search firm or employment agency relies on the rationale that “We do this as a profession” to lend credence to their interview efforts. The real value of the interview is to verify that the person has experience which matches the experience that the client expects in a viable candidate. Prediction of future success is assumed but cannot be truly assessed through the usual interviewing process. As every financial prospectus warns: “Past performance is not indicative, nor a guarantee, of future performance”.
An additional assessment tool often employed is a paper-and-pencil test of general intelligence available from test publishers. Since most of these have been developed according to APA (American Psychological Association) approved standards, they tend to give a more precise measurement of intelligence.
One or several interviews and a general intelligence test represent the totality of the typical search firm’s candidate assessment.
The search firm or employment agency’s typical fee for successful candidate placement is between 30% and 35% of the first year’s compensation. In addition, any costs incurred for advertising, staff travel and/or candidate travel, etc. are invoiced as well. Many firms have become selective in the level of position for which they will conduct a search. (Many will not entertain a client engagement for a position paying less than $100,000 annually.)
“BERNIE” YOUNG & ASSOCIATES, INC.’S UNIQUE PROPOSITION
The manner in which an individual is evaluated sets “Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc. apart from the efforts of search firms and employment agencies. The evaluation focuses on competencies in the area of interpersonal skills. Many studies have found that interpersonal skills, above all others, are the indicators of leadership success.
Stanford Research Institute (SRI) found that leadership effectiveness is based on 87% interpersonal skill and 13% product knowledge. In a global survey of some 5,000 organizations, Development Dimensions International (DDI) found that some 35% of executives, while quite successful in “bringing in the numbers”, failed in their positions due to a lack of interpersonal skills.
The “Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc. approach is to engage the candidate in a structured interview. This involves presenting a pre-selected series of scenarios designed to elicit an individual’s responses toward resolving the situations presented. The same scenarios, in the same sequence, are presented to all qualified candidates for a given position. Each candidate is allowed the same response time per scenario, and all responses are audio recorded for later evaluation.
The taped responses are evaluated by three assessors using a pre-established checklist. The checklist contains the actions, assumptions, and considerations normally anticipated to be found in an individual’s response to that particular scenario. As the assessors listen to the candidate’s response they scan the checklist for any similarities between items on the list and the ideas being expressed. When similarities exist, the checklist item is marked. The candidate’s tape is paused and replayed as needed. These same three assessors evaluate all candidates across all of the scenarios, assuring an additional level of consistency.
At the end of a candidate’s response, the three assessors must reach absolute consensus. An agreement must be reached on both the number of items checked, as well as an assurance that the same items were checked by all three assessors. A replay of the entire response, or portions thereof, is done to resolve any differences among the assessors. This absolute consensus process adds an additional dimension of objectivity, quality control, and standardization to the assessment process.
In contrast to the usual interview which typically meanders depending on candidate responses, the above discussion portrays a much more objective and replicated process. Replication is the basis for reliability. If reliability does not exist, there is no chance for validity.
The mechanics of the process demonstrate its reliability, and the validity of the approach is based on its content.
The scenarios consist of situations which are typical of those interpersonal events found in every organization. They are not specific to industry or type of organization. As long as organizations continue to be populated by human beings these scenarios are relevant and representative of the inter-personal challenges faced by managers on a daily basis.
For a scenario to have “content validity” it must be shown to sample the content of the position for which it is used. If the scenarios are considered as valid predictors, then the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) they assess should match the KSAs required for effective job performance. The utility of a valid predictor is to say that if a candidate does (or does not) assess well, one can extrapolate these results to anticipated job performance.
This brings us full circle. Leadership/management is defined as the ability to influence the behavior of others in the achievement of an organization’s goals and objectives. This “ability to influence” is determined by an individual’s possession of interpersonal skills. Research findings have demonstrated repeatedly the criticality of these skills in determining leadership and managerial success. Therefore, any reliable and valid approach in assessing these skills is necessary for successful identification of leadership/management talent.
“Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc. possesses such an approach for the valid identification of leadership and management talent.
Additionally, “Bernie” Young & Associates, Inc. is certified to assess the compatibility of the candidates with the current team and can aid the Sr. Level Manager in an organization with techniques that may be needed to motivate and manage the new hire(s). This vital information will aid in shortening the ‘learning’ curve of team development between the new employee(s) and others within the organization to avoid potential conflicts that could occur because of misunderstandings of the various communication styles within the team.