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Does Your Team Know How to Prioritize?

September 8th, 2017

When you hire new candidates, you work hard to select those who have the knowledge base and experience to handle the technical challenges of the job. You only bring a candidate on board if he or she knows how to code, for example, or organize a budget, or conduct sales calls within a certain territory. But as it happens, there’s a gap between knowing something and knowing how to complete on-the-job tasks efficiently and effectively. At a certain point, what your candidates have learned in school or training sessions will need to carry over into deliverables and measurable accomplishments on the job. So how can you take a brilliant team and turn their brilliance into results? Keep these considerations in mind.

Train your teams to organize and prioritize.

Too often, young employees enter the workplace after spending most of their lives in the classroom, and in the classroom, tasks are all designed to be completed—otherwise they wouldn’t be assigned. In the workplace, tasks often pile up, they appear out of thin air, and they take the form of instructions and requests from many people who may or may not hold meaningful authority. In other words: in the workplace, most employees can’t say yes to every single task and chore that presents itself, so they need to learn to say no. They also need to learn to say, “Yes, but not today” and “Maybe, if I get to it.” This doesn’t always come naturally. But prioritizing is a skill like any other. Help your teams by exercising your coaching skills and your patience.

Teach strategy.

New and inexperienced employees often spend the first hours of the day utterly overwhelmed by all they have to do—so they do nothing. They sip their coffee in a state of paralysis until the first of their tasks rises to the top of the list of its own accord. Instead of reliving this ritual every day, train your employees to attack the list and aggressively cross off what isn’t vital, downgrade the items that can wait, and start working on the items that matter most. To do this, they’ll need to think into the future and examine the big picture. Who else depends on them in order to get things done? Who’s waiting impatiently for answers, and why? Which larger projects matter most, and how will outcomes be affected by these decisions?

Teach teamwork.

“Teamwork” doesn’t mean dealing with an overwhelming list by pushing tasks off on coworkers. But it does mean asking for help when high priority items are getting out of hand, for the good of the organization. Help your employees to understand the difference, share the load, and communicate effectively when it’s time to offer or receive assistance.

For more on how to encourage a culture of efficiency, teamwork, and productivity, talk to the Fairfeld County staffing and management professionals at Merritt Staffing.

Hiring Great Millennial Employees

May 9th, 2014

New grads and job seekers between the ages of 22 and 35, often called millennials, represent the younger end of the workforce and as such, they tend to bring both the promise and the struggles that have been associated with their age group for many years. But some of the traits and tendencies that younger workers bring to the table in 2014 are unique to their own time and place in the world.

Like younger workers in every age, millennials tend to be optimistic, loyal, eager to please, and unable to accurately assess the value they add to the workplace (they tend to over or underestimate their own talents and contributions due to a lack of perspective and life experience.) Unique to our age, millennials also bring a high level of comfort with (even dependence on) technology. And they tend to be collaborative, sensitive to the needs of others, and often afraid to make independent decisions or act without supervision.

If you’re in the process of hiring millennial candidates for your junior or entry level positions, here are a few tips that can help you attract the best qualities this age group has to offer.

1. Cater to the generation.

Aggressive, demanding job posts with long lists of “must haves” and “need not apply’s” will deter bold, confident candidates and attract risk-averse, nervous grinds. Remember that most of what you need from candidates at this level can be taught on the job. The things that can’t be taught—like positivity, flexibility, grit, and general intelligence—are the kinds of things you’ll need to select for.

2. Don’t underpay.

Yes, younger candidates typically need to accept lower salaries. This has been the primary burden of the entry level since the dawn of time. But if you lure talented candidates onboard and secure them with lowball salaries, they’ll leave as soon as they can (i.e. as they start to gain experience and add real value). If you want a revolving door at the entry level, pay the minimum. But if you want to hire candidates with long term potential and watch them grow with the company, you’ll have to offer competitive rates and meaningful benefits.

3. Conduct intelligent interviews.

Asking your candidates what color crayon they would be or which cartoon character they like the most might seem like a cute way to present yourself as a fun workplace. But we advise against this. Instead, ask meaningful questions about the candidate’s preparation for the job at hand, and explain your culture as directly and honestly as you can. Use behavioral questions (“Describe a leadership challenge you’ve faced in the past”) and problem solving questions (“How would you climb to the top of a tall building with only a piece of string and a pack of gum?”) but don’t bait or demean your candidates. Keep things professional.

For more on how to attract and retain the best millennial candidates on the job market, reach out to the experienced staffing experts at Merritt.

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