Organizational Development

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by David J. Bowman|
A recent study by Gallup research has uncovered a disturbing fact about American workers: 70% are not engaged in their work. In addition, The Conference Board, a corporate think-tank, indicates that 53% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. Of course, these statistics cover a broad range of sentiment - from only slightly to very unengaged and/or unhappy. Nevertheless, the situation clearly must be addressed if the U.S. expects to enjoy continued productivity in an increasingly competitive world economy.

The obvious question raised by these studies is, "Why?" Surely, most employers would be quite surprised at hearing such news. Are our hiring standards, as well as our matching of people to jobs, so inadequate and unsophisticated that we've allowed this unproductive situation to occur? The obvious answer is, "Yes!"

Having been in the selection and hiring business for over twenty years, I can safely say that most American employers go about the hiring process in precisely the wrong way. When a hiring decision must be made, it's usual for the supervisor to decide what experience, skills and perhaps management or operating style are necessary in an incumbent. He or she may ask the opinion of a subordinate or two, but generally these decisions are made only by the supervisor. That's the wrong way to do it! 

When asked to help in the selection process, I've used one of two options to determine the necessary core competencies of an incumbent. I've either extensively interviewed the supervisor, as well as several peers, subordinates and perhaps customers, vendors and anyone else that might interact with a prospective incumbent; or I've given the same individuals a professionally prepared, validated questionnaire to determine competencies. These processes are called 360° profiling.

However, in nearly every one of these 360° profiling assignments, the supervisor's views have been...
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