May 2007 Vol. 6 No. 5
Are You Communicating
What You Intend???
by Barbara Metzger
Where are you sitting? How are you standing? Do you intend to intimidate
or do you want to cooperate? It shows up in body language.
From The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara
Pease, a University of Toledo study compared notes of a twenty minute
interview and a group of observers who watched only the first fifteen
seconds (yep – 15 seconds). Both groups had about the same impressions.
Their premise was the greater the status of position and command of
language, the less the use of gestures to communicate messages. High-status
people generally “keep their cool” and show very little
emotion. The people with less control would be more demonstrative. We
only get one chance to make a first impression.
Following the other person’s lead
on body language and pace will increase feeling of acceptance.
The book also quoted another study where a manager was felt to be difficult
to work with and not very friendly. After observing his office several
changes were made. When the desk was moved against a wall, the visitor
chair was then along side the desk (more cooperative) than when it was
across from him. The visitor chair was also no longer with it’s
back to the open door. The people with their back to the door increases
stress levels, especially if they are a dominate behavioral style. There
was also a mirrored film placed over the office interior window. This
allowed the manager to see out but the workers couldn’t see in,
giving a more intimate office. When the workers could see his total
office before, it takes away some of his power/authority.
One last thing was done with the office. They put in a round table
with three chairs all of equal height. He also practiced using body
language to indicate his authority (subtle steeple of his fingers) and
showing open palms and open body position to show acceptance. Within
months, he was known to be “easy-going” and relaxed. Amazing
what can happen with just a little attention to the non-verbal communication.
Another interesting comment was large briefcases can indicated disorganized
people who are not in charge. Want or need a briefcase? Make it a slim,
small one if you want to be perceived as the take charge person.
They were also saying the taller the person, the more perceived power
they have. Have you ever noticed on talk shows where the guest’s
chair adjusts to be eye level with the host? This was very evident on
the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was the host. Johnny wasn’t
very tall but no guest sat taller than he did.
A personal note here, years ago my attorney was a well respected, well
known San Antonio lawyer. He wasn’t very tall, probably between
5’6” and 5’8”. In his office, the two guest
chairs opposite his desk were very comfortable. HOWEVER, as you sank
into their comfort, even if you sat up without leaning back, your eyes
were only about level with the top of his desk. It certainly kept him
in the authority place. It does make me smile at the obvious need for
My challenge for you this month is to watch body language. What do
you notice?....in the other person and in yourself? Let me know what
you discover. Barbara@maxproductivity.com
Three Hiring Lessons: Putting Round Pegs in
Round Holes by Dr. Ira Wolfe
You've likely heard the story about the boss pleading with his/her
recruiters that the company needs to do a better job at recruiting and
hiring round pegs to fill round holes. This analogy hangs right up there
with putting the right people on the bus, made famous by Jim Collins
in his book "Good to Great." Regardless of how a manager tells
the story, the message is the same: hiring the right people the first
time is gaining more importance.
In this week's column let's take a look at how companies can do a better
job at identifying the "round pegs," the best candidates and
then making sure they fit the "round holes," the job.
Before we start talking about resumes, interviews, and personality tests,
the first thing that goes through my mind is this: are you sure the
hole you want to fill is round? What if you found a square peg and modified
the hole, the hole being the job? Could this square peg in a square
hole perform the functions of the job as well, if not better than the
round peg? In other words, is the hole really round? Or is it just that
only round pegs have filled the position before and managers merely
made the assumption that only round pegs could do the job?"
Lesson #1: Before looking for
round pegs, you need to first be sure the hole needs to be round. You
can do this by completing a job analysis to identify the essential functions
of the job, the responsibilities of the people filling the position,
and the skills and behaviors required to fulfill these responsibilities.
To make the job analysis functional, managers must then identify how
to measure performance - what are the expectations of the round peg
and how well is it functioning?
For the purpose of this column, let's say we know for certain that
the hole is round and therefore only round pegs will fit properly.
You advertise for the position and you are overwhelmed with pegs - you
have big pegs and little pegs, square pegs and oblong pegs, rectangular
pegs and triangular pegs. You even have a few rhomboidal and octagonal
pegs. And thankfully, a number of round pegs apply too.
Lesson #2: After completing the job analysis and determining
the hole really is round the next step in the process is to begin identifying
the round pegs. You begin the sifting process. Reading their resumes
eliminates a few right away. Calling several more on the phone eliminates
This part of the process - identifying the pegs that don't fit - is
called screening. Typically screening tools include observation, resumes
or job applications, education, work history and so on. The initial
phone or face-to-face interview also is considered a screening tool
This screening phase for many companies is becoming very costly and
ineffective. The job market is so tight for many positions that companies
need to spread a wide net to find enough pegs to fill all the holes.
But when a company is looking specifically for a round peg, much time
and resources are wasted sifting through all the non-round pegs who
In search of a better system to screen, companies are now using sophisticated
hiring "sieves" to separate out the round pegs from the non-round
ones. (A sieve separates wanted/desired elements from unwanted material
- you know draining the water from the spaghetti, coins from the sand,
and for our purposes, weeding out the non-round pegs.)
Advancements in technology and employee assessments offer easy-to-implement,
cost-effective screening solutions. Applicant processing systems in
the past were complex and costly to implement, therefore excluding small
and mid-sized businesses. But systems like Total Application Processing
System (Total-APS) or HR Clues are now affordable for even micro-businesses
and for companies looking to fill one or one hundred positions. Applicants
apply by submitting a resume and responding to an online interview.
Companies can customize the questions specific to the job and company
culture requirements. Each question is rated and weighted allowing managers
to quickly differentiate the perfectly round pegs from the almost round
pegs to the not-at-all round pegs with little or no time expended on
their part. Prompt response and focused attention can then be directed
to only the round pegs.
"Personality tests" can be an additional screening tool.
It is important to note at this point that not all personality tests
are screening tests nor are all screening tests predictive of job performance
and competence. For instance an assessment like CandidClues is excellent
at predicting a candidate's attitude toward dependability, honesty and
hostile tendencies but is not useful at all at assessing teamwork, problem
solving, drive or persistence. JobClues on the other hand is a very
reliable personality and cognitive test for teamwork, conscientiousness,
detail-orientation and more when used as a screening tool. And while
the Clues assessments provide an excellent screening tool, they are
not recommended for selection. I reserve my selection assessment recommendations
to Prevue (formerly known as TotalView) and ASSESS.
Whatever method is used for sifting out the non-round pegs - resume,
interview, APS, personality test - you should now have only round pegs
left in the candidate pool.
Where managers go from here depends on how exact the fit of the round
peg must be into the round hole.
Lesson #3: Let's say the diameter of the round hole
is 3.25 inches. For a manager, this means the individual who fills this
position must have specific skills and abilities, the motivation to
do the job, the behavioral style to fit with the rest of the team, and
values that fit with the culture. Translation: only round pegs with
a diameter equal to or less than 3.25 will fit into the hole. At this
point the question that managers must ask is "how exact does the
fit need to be?" Will a 2.5 inch or 3.75 inch round peg suffice
or are the dimensions critical too?
An individual's motivation, behavioral style, values, personality traits
determine the roundness of the peg. Cognitive skills and job competence
affect the size of the peg. For example - you could have a perfectly
round peg that has the essential qualifications to fit the hole: It's
round. But if the hole requires a 3.25 inch peg, a peg measuring 5 inches
may be over-qualified and not challenged by the job responsibilities.
The peg has too much of something while a 2 inch peg would need a lot
of filler to make it work.
If close is good enough, then a structured behavioral interview and
a screening assessment such as Clues may be predictive enough to find
the best fitting round peg. But if the margin of error is small, then
any peg smaller than 3.24 inches or larger than 3.26 inches could cause
performance problems or disruptions on the team.
What if your job analysis showed that only red pegs work and blue
pegs won't? What if you know that only pegs made out of specific materials
work? When a job requires specific competencies, behavioral styles,
or cognitive skills and the company culture requires certain values
and motivations, then the use of selection assessments, not screening
tests, are a must.
When essential functions are clearly identified and the skills and
abilities to carry out these functions are fairly specific, then selection
tools, combined with a structured competency-based behavioral interview,
create a sieve within a sieve. Once you have narrowed down the candidate
pool to the round pegs that most closely fit the round hole, selection
tools identify all the essential characteristics in advance - how well
can they perform the job, what potential does the candidate have to
grow and learn, how well will they fit on the team, will he/she embrace
the company culture, and so on.
Behavioral competency-based interviewing makes good business sense
and is a best practice. To learn how to identify competencies and conduct
effective behavioral interviews, email Barbara@maxproductivity.com
and please include your name, company, and best time to contact you.
Perfect Labor Storm Facts
Graduation is just around the corner and millions of new workers will
be applying for jobs. Here’s a quick peek at a few of their quirks:
- The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reported
that communication skills top the list of what employers look for
the most in employees and job candidates. Ironically, communication
skills also top the list of skills most lacking in new college graduates.
- More than a third of 18 to 25 year olds have a attoo. Thirty percent
of 18 to 25 year olds have piercing somewhere besides their earlobes.
Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
- 58 percent of college graduates from 2000 to 2006 moved home after
school and 32 percent stayed more than a year.
Source: Experience Inc.
- 73 percent of 18 to 25 year olds received financial assistance
from their parents in the past year and 64 percent have gotten help
Source: Pew Research Center
Perfect Labor Storm 2.0 is now available. The year 2007 will see an
increase in skilled worker shortages and more competition. The result
will be higher salaries, more training and career advancement opportunities,
and more flexible work cultures. How prepared is your company to find
skilled and dependable workers?
Perfect Labor Storm 2.0 is the newly updated and revised 2007 edition
of best-selling book first published in 2005. You can now download an
advance copy of PLS 2.0. a $10 value with every purchase of the original
Perfect Labor Storm, still a great value at $9.95. Order at http://tinyurl.com/yqbhmn
The featured article and labor storm facts are written by Ira S.
Wolfe, founder of Success Performance Solutions, and is distributed
here by MaxImize with permission. To read more about any of SPS
pre-employment assessment systems, go to or call 717.291.4640 or