How to acquire and develop the best talent
Focus on the right things21st Jul 2020
Finding the right staff is important but, unless you know exactly what you are looking for, you cannot accurately assess and evaluate a candidate during the selection process. There are plenty of things you can easily forget to assess when interviewing for new talent.
It is not just skills and experience, but also soft skills, traits, personality, ambition and – most important – cultural fit. These factors are harder, but not impossible, to assess and if you pay attention to this, you increase your chances of finding, and more importantly retaining the best candidate for the job.
Assessing hard skills
What are the core requirements for the role you are looking for in terms of hard skills? Hard skills are measurable proficiencies that come from experience or training. For example, the HOA bookkeeper you are looking for may be required to use a certain software program. This can be assessed through answers to preprepared competency-based interview questions, in which the candidate is encouraged to give examples of times that they demonstrated certain skills using the particular software. You could also develop a short practical assessment.
Assessing soft skills
It is important that you also think about which soft skills are needed for the role. Soft skills are inherent personality traits that are trickier to teach, and harder to measure. So how can you determine which soft skills to look for? Think about which soft skills would be of benefit to the role. For example, you may be recruiting a receptionist for the HOA office, and you would need someone with an ability to relate to various types of home owners, so you would want someone with strong interpersonal skills. Also think about which attributes the previous job holder had that were beneficial to the role, and that weren’t.
Once the candidate is in front of you, you can assess their soft skills in the interview by giving them an opportunity to demonstrate these skills. For example, you could ask: ‘Can you think of a time when you had to deal with an irate customer? How did you do this?’ You can also read between the lines to see how they demonstrate this skill in the way they talk to you. Do you feel that they come across as confident and calm?
Soft skills are not to be underestimated when interviewing for new talent; they can be the difference between a candidate that’s good on paper, and one that’s great in practice.
How to determine cultural fit
Do you know what your HOA’s culture is? Why would someone want to work for your particular HOA? Whether you are aware of it or not, an HOA has a culture, and the type of culture differs from HOA to HOA. It is determined by the leaders, board members, community manager and senior managers, all of whom have the power to set the tone for culture. In most cases, a culture cannot be dictated, but it can be communicated, and you will be able to spot those who can’t adapt to it.
Also, the HOA leaders, board members and community managers need to know what type of leaders they are, and how this influences the culture. This is critical in assessing the culture and assisting with the selection of new talent. What type of leaders do employees think lead the HOA and how does this influence the culture? This is certainly applicable to an HOA or body corporate, as the leaders (board members) will change as and when a new board is elected.
Lee Iacocca, CEO of Chrysler Corporation, once said: ‘I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.’ While this leadership style may not be for everyone, it could be an advantage to be able to get out of your employees’ way and have the confidence that they will be able to get the job done, plus some.
To evaluate how well a candidate will fit in with the team, before you start recruiting, brainstorm the keywords that describe your team and the culture. For instance, it may be a very close-knit HOA where everyone is very friendly and team-spirited. Therefore, you should look for these attributes in your candidate during the interview.
Prepare some questions that can reveal whether the candidate possesses the traits that could make them a good fit. For example, if you require a team-spirited individual, you would ask questions like ‘How would you describe your style of working?’ or ‘Can you give an example of a time when you worked well in a team, and what you believe made that a successful working relationship?’
It may also be a good idea to introduce a candidate to other people in your team and let these colleagues know what exactly you are trying to gauge. This way they can ask the right questions and provide feedback to you on how well they think a candidate would fit in.
How to assess career goals and ambition
Think about the opportunities available in this role. For instance, there may be scope for the successful candidate to develop their skill set and progress in their career within your HOA. Will this candidate take advantage of the opportunities available? Ask them questions like ‘What are you looking for in this role?’ and ‘Where do you see yourself in the next xx years?’ You should also find out what their expectations are for training and development opportunities, and if there are any directions in which they would like to develop.
Internal progression and development could be a core part of your staff retention strategy, and a key driver of the HOA’s success. Therefore, it is important to find a candidate whose career goals are aligned with this.
You’ve found them, now keep them
Once you have acquired your talent, you need to train and develop that talent, as individuals and as a team. Workforce learning and development are an absolute must. No matter how talented and experienced your staff are, ongoing training and development are imperative. This, used in conjunction with clearly defined roles and competencies, clearly outlined career pathways, mentoring and performance/evaluation tools, should ensure that top talent remains the best and that a management team becomes a powerful force in the industry. This, in turn, ensures that the team has the best experience possible.
After acquiring talent and investing time and money in training and development, one needs to retain that talent. Making an HOA a great place to work is not rocket science – you simply need to value people beyond their salary. Engaging and empowering all staff members, communicating well and showing appreciation every day really do help.
Unfortunately, there is no standard formula to prevent the best employees from searching for greener, more profitable pastures, but industry leaders, board members and community managers do have the power to make their HOA a great place to work.