Survey Says: An Interview With NSCA's Chuck Wilson

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Chuck Wilson doesn’t have a crystal ball, but recent industry surveys tell him that there will be a trend in 2012 toward replenishing some industry positions.

“The majority of our members say they’ll hire back for many tech jobs, project management, and a few sales positions,” said Wilson, executive director and CEO of NSCA. “Some will be filled with those from the IT field.”

In one recent study of technology companies, 45 percent of those who responded said they intend to look into changing jobs when the economy turns around. They are dissatisfied in some way.

“That tells me that many people working in the industry feel underemployed or undervalued, so when people do hire again there may be a lot of movement,” he explained. “If we do indeed see continuous, slow and steady growth we’ll see companies looking to hire and current employees looking to improve their positions by looking outside their companies.”

Wilson cautioned that many executives fail to realize that as they are hiring for an open position, they may actually have others within their own company looking to leave. “So as the economy picks up, don’t be surprised if you have to hire more people than first envisioned.”

The NSCA recommends a hiring approach that first begins by promoting within. “You know the person, their work ethic, and behavior,” he said. “To know someone is an asset for hiring. You know the four elements, skill sets, knowledge, dependability, and behavior. Dependability, knowing that an employee can be relied upon for issues such as time and budget, is crucial for an employer, and their ability to sleep at night.”

Getting a solid referral from top-notch references is as good as gold, Wilson continued. “My third and last-resort preference is to hire a top performer away from a competitor, but only when the first two methods fail.”

The NSCA’s membership has become more advanced over the last ten years in looking at predictability tools and benchmarks for successful hiring according to ranks. Behavior and motivators vary greatly from service, sales, technical, management, and project managers. Wilson advised identifying and testing a candidate’s personality traits on these key areas: promoter, conductor, persuader, relater, supporter, coordinator, analyzer, and implementer.

“These motivating factors based on personality traits will be the best predictor of a high performer in each employment category. Over time you will find that the best sales people don’t spend time unless they see results. A tech/service person is far more of a supportive, analyzer, and communicator. A project manager is more of an implementer who wants to execute in accordance with other peoples’ plans, getting it done in accordance with specs. They love to see it done meticulously and are highly motivated in that accomplishment.”

What the industry gains in tools, it lacks in interviewing skills, he warned. “We’re even worse when a new hire shows up on the first day. The industry needs to work on orientation and what happens in first 90 days when employees have made up their minds about the job. That all relates back to culture and whether they feel supported by a new boss. It costs to hire someone who doesn’t fit the culture. We’ve seen estimates recently that the cost is approximately $8,470 in time and training every time you make a bad hiring decision.”

Wilson points to one NSCA member company with a weekly get-together of new employees who are there for less than six months, to meet with the owner and talk about their initial experiences. “Often, the tasks during first 90 days of a job have nothing to do with what they applied for. A project manager may have pulled wire for the first 90 days. If you aren’t with them every step they won’t understand why this occurs and that you want them to learn everything the company does.”

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