Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hiring Process Quality

One of my regular newsletter feeds, Human Resource Executive Online, had an article this past week entitled Hiring-Process Quality Drops. I was intrigued, and read through, including looking at the source material, a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the State of the Workforce. The metric cited as evidence of hiring process quality was first year turnover.  Apparently, this statistic is measured and reported by many companies, and had been in a downward trend line (the good direction for this stat) for many years, but reversed itself in 2012.  It went from 21.5% in 2011 to 22.6% in 2012, not a particularly alarming increase.

I was reminded of John Sullivan’s articles on employee turnover, in which he opines that not all turnover is bad, and that low turnover could mean you have “ugly” (poorly performing) employees.  Both of Sullivan’s articles point out that retention just means that people aren’t leaving – it doesn’t mean they are doing you any good!

So, in my humble opinion, measuring hiring process quality by first year turnover is ludicrous.

I did a little looking for additional info on this topic, and found a much better take on it by Shanil Kaderali in his article How to Measure Whether You’re Hiring Good People.   This is a somewhat complex article, but it is worth puzzling through, because Shanil’s point of view is very compelling.  The quality of hiring is based not on turnover, but on how well the people fit after 6-9 months on the job, and very importantly, on how productive they are.

Let me add to this that the best way to determine how productive someone is, is to define what success would look like well before the hire.  Using a performance-based approach, and defining the objectives and metrics before hiring ensures that any employer has a way to determine hiring process quality that would be far more meaningful than first year turnover.

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Posted by Mark Bregman at 5:39 PM

Friday, August 2, 2013

Women in Defense – The White Party – Sunday, Aug 11th

Women In Defense, Greater Los Angeles Chapter (WID-GLAC)’s inaugural WHITE PARTY will be held on Sunday, August 11, 2013 in Newport Beach, CA. The event is to raise money for HORIZONS Scholarships and to honor the achievements of several outstanding women within the Southern California Aerospace and Defense community for our inaugural Service to the Flag Award.

The event will be held at the private Balboa Yacht Club, in Newport Beach, CA on August 11, 2013 from 6-9pm. It is a splendid setting right on the water of gorgeous Newport Harbor. Guests are encouraged to wear White Attire or Military Dress.

Ample drinks, plentiful food, music and a spectacular sunset will be included.

Please come celebrate the accomplishments of our honorees:

  • Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski – Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California
  • Dr. Wanda Austin – President & CEO, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Patti Patton-Bader – Founder, President & CEO of Soldiers’ Angels

Northrop Grumman Corporation
The Aerospace Corporation
Lockheed Martin
Cristek Interconnects
Harris Corporation
BOB Search

Register online at

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Amanda Smith:

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Posted by Mark Bregman at 12:05 PM

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

“I” vs. “We” in Interviews

Corporate America has trained managers to think and act in teams, and to use the word “we” when describing all actions.  Like the Queen of England!

In a job interview, when asked to describe a project or a situation, is it better to say “we” did this…, or, to say “I” did this….?  The answer is both.

If you only say “we” when describing your involvement in projects, solutions in which you were involved, etc., the interviewer cannot distinguish your personal actions.  He/she would not know whether you were taking responsibility for the actions of others, were fully responsible personally, or something in between.  By being a shining example of corporate teamwork (saying “we” all the time), you don’t get to take credit for what you have personally accomplished!

On the other hand, if you say “I” for everything, you come across as egotistical, arrogant, and perhaps might be suspected as a person who doesn’t give enough credit to others.

I’m an advocate of being specific and clear, and using both words appropriately.  Here’s an example.  Let’s say you were asked what your experience was in turning around a dissatisfied customer.  Your answer might look like this:

”When I took over this project, I consulted with the team to see why the customer was dissatisfied.  We knew we needed to speed up delivery.  But, when all the input was in, we concluded that we really needed to improve communication and provide more accurate details.  Everyone took part, and we were able to turn around our communication within a month.  My part in this was to smooth the customer’s ruffled feathers and lay out our intention and plan for better communication, so that they would be expecting better information from us.  We fulfilled and ultimately exceeded their expectations.”

The ideal formula in an interview is to be conscious of balancing the use of “I” and “We”, so that you DO take credit for your personal accomplishments, AND DO come across as a team player who acknowledges others.  It is ok to standout sometimes, and in an interview it is important to clearly articulate your achievements.

The best way to achieve this balance is to prepare your stories in advance, and rehearse how you will tell them.  See my earlier blog about rehearsing stories for interviews.

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Posted by Mark Bregman at 10:04 AM

Friday, June 7, 2013

What Keeps You Up at Night?

What do business leaders really worry about?  Is it macro issues, like world economics, or micro issues, like On-Time Delivery in the factory?  Of course it is both, but what really keeps people up at night?  According to recent polls we’ve read by Forbes, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and others, here are some of the biggest concerns:

Cash Flow: Any business owner or senior company leader has felt the pain of meeting payroll or pushing out vendors when cash is tight.  That is always uncomfortable. The recession has meant we’re all stretched out on payments from customers, and tighter requirements from lenders.  Most businesses experience the crunch at one time or another.

Competition: The “pie” isn’t getting bigger, and we all worry about getting a bigger piece of the same pie.  Many companies who relied on legacy products for a long time have found themselves unable to respond quickly enough to build a better mousetrap.  New product introduction is a must, with aggressive selling.

The Unknown:  Catastrophic events, terrorism, social unrest, global volatility – all unknowns.  A-Type personality leaders like to control their environments, but there are many things beyond our control.

Regulations: Whether warranted or overblown, executives report that fear of the impact of current and future regulation often seriously affects business decisions.

Governmental Action/Inaction: Just this week we saw the stock market drop out of fear that the Fed might reign in its monetary stimulus policy (buying assets).  Business leaders never know what is coming out of DC or State Houses, but the rhetoric keeps fueling fears.

Economics: Global companies worry about more than just the US Recession.  They also worry about monetary policies abroad, and volatility in any area of the world that can impact sales, production, etc.

Talent: When the recession ends, and Baby Boomers begin to actually retire on schedule, there will be a growing shortage of skilled workers and managers.  The gap between now and 2030 could be as much as 20 million people who will be less skilled than the generation that preceded them.  This will cause a mad scramble for talent, and some companies are already beginning to experience this in key areas like engineering.

What is the key to surviving these threats, and being able to sleep at night? Agility and adaptability.  Companies that can move quickly, get new products in the market, beat the competition with true differentiation, and scale talent (both down and up), will stand a greater chance.  Their Execs will sleep a little bit better at night!

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Posted by Mark Bregman at 11:51 AM

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Women in Defense- Greater Los Angeles Chapter (WID-GLAC), JCrew Shopping Event July 18th at South Coast Plaza

Women In Defense-Greater Los Angeles Chapter (WID-GLAC), A National Security Organization, is pleased to invite you to join us for an exclusive shopping event at J. Crew on July 18th from 6-8pm at the newly remodeled South Coast Plaza store. Guests will enjoy a 15% off discount on purchases of $150 or more. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Women In Defense HORIZONS Scholarship Fund which awards funding annually to women to studying science, technology, engineering, math, and other national-security related fields. This is an informal event open to ALL your friends, co-workers and family. We hope you will enjoy this opportunity to shop till you drop and support WID-GLAC!

Posted by Mark Bregman at 11:28 AM