How Companies Identify Talent with Dr. Dan Harrison & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Dr Dan Harrison HR Strategies Human Resources

Things are changing quickly, and technology is becoming an essential part of HR. Keep in mind the real goal for each trend and consider the degree to which it will help you achieve that goal.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Dan Harrison.

Dr. Dan Harrison is the founder and CEO of Harrison Assessments, a cloud-based technology that provides secure, job-specific predictive analytics that enhance the candidate and employee experience.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

My initial career interest was human potential psychology, and I was involved in that field for at least 15 years. I got to the point where I realized my goal was to have a more significant impact on society, so I decided to change my focus to organizational psychology. I had experienced many transformations for myself and others, but I knew that focusing on organizations would capture the important task of enabling leadership transformation and increasing employee capabilities.

When I was 27 years only, I led an organization with 50 employees. My background in human potential psychology was incredibly useful because it enabled me to establish much better communication throughout the organization.

In 1990, I founded Harrison Assessments to help organizations optimize their talent capability by leveraging my understanding of human potential development and leadership. Psychology is a funny thing because you’re always looking through the lens of your mind. That lens will determine how deeply we understand psychology because our blind spots and defense systems restrict us.

To gain a deeper view of psychology, we need to apply human potential methods to ourselves, broadening our perspective to see how the psyche works. After focusing on my development, my creativity significantly increased. I also provided a paradox framework that gives deep insight into leadership, individual performance, and organizational culture.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

When I started to develop Harrison Assessments, I took a lot of time to flesh out my ideas and apply them in a 1-to-1 setting. I would use my paradox framework to assess individuals and interact with them about the results. I spent a lot of time working out the details on actual humans.

People started making discoveries, and there was a lot of, “Wow, this is amazing. This is what I needed for my career.” Then some of them started saying we should computerize it and make it more available to others.

We started in Perth, Western Australia. Then people began coming from Asia and saying they wanted to be a part of it. Then it spread to the U.S. and Europe. We didn’t do any marketing — all of the interest was based on word of mouth.

What I learned from that was not to worry too much about what other people are doing. Focus on doing something unique, special, and extraordinarily beneficial. Then it will attract people without having to spend so much energy and money trying to sell it.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time-consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example for each idea.

  1. We enable our customers to automate most of their hiring processes with our job candidate assessment platform, allowing them to spend time doing something that will achieve the goal of hiring top talent. Hiring managers are spending time reviewing résumés, which takes away from the time needed to analyze their jobs carefully. This analysis is then used as a basis to explore each candidate’s potential job fit. For example, we identify the key performance indicators for the job and build our assessments around those. We then identify the behaviors and qualifications needed to achieve those results.
  2. Measure job success behaviors as well as eligibility or qualifications for the specific job. Focus your assessment on the behaviors specific to success for your job. Also, measure the candidate’s qualifications related to your job. For example, you can calculate various interpersonal skills needed and different amounts of experience or skills. It is essential to quantify both to obtain a clear understanding of each candidate’s likely success in the job.
  3. Measure the degree to which the candidate will enjoy the job and what the candidate wants from employment. For example, to what degree are the candidate’s interests and work preferences aligned with the job? What expectations do they have of an employer? To what degree are they seeking opportunities for higher pay, opportunities for professional development, social opportunities, etc.? Having job enjoyment and alignment with candidates’ expectations is the key to hiring engaged employees.
  4. Use Paradox Technology to understand if a candidate’s strong traits are strengths or derailers. Some assessments assume that strong traits are strengths, which is not always the case. Traits can also be one’s greatest weakness. Other assessments assume that strong traits are both strengths and weaknesses, but this only confuses the assessment results. Paradox Technology determines the degree to which a strong trait is a strength by comparing it to a paradoxical trait. For example, frankness can be a strength if we combine it with diplomacy or tact. If not, it becomes bluntness, which has derailed many careers. If we combine it with strong diplomacy, it becomes a strength that doesn’t have any associated derailer. This methodology is the key to an accurate behavioral assessment.
  5. Change your mindset to focus on how you can create a mutually beneficial employer-candidate relationship. When most employers interview candidates, their mindset is: “Is this person good enough for my job?” However, to attract top candidates, the mindset needs to be: “Are we good for each other? How do I, as the employer, fit your needs as a job candidate or employee?” Employment is a business relationship, and people only stay when their work meets their needs. Using the interview to explore mutual needs, you create a great candidate experience and greater understanding of the job fit. Having an assessment that measures both enables a candid and fruitful discussion.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

1. Focus your job advertisement on the general benefits of the job, which includes what current employees say they like about the job. If there are great opportunities for career development, say what they are. If there are great opportunities to earn higher pay, say that. Say what is good about the company culture.

In most cases, you will also need to say what the person does and the minimum requirements, but make sure you don’t include unnecessary minimum requirements. If a candidate without a bachelor’s degree could be successful with great experience, skills, and attitudes, don’t use a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement.

Avoid saying what behaviors you are looking for in the advertisement. You will measure this, and describing it will only encourage people to tell you what they think you want to hear. Avoid recycling previous job descriptions because chances are the role has changed, meaning needs have changed for both you, the employer, and the talent pool.

2. When interviewing candidates, acknowledge and explore their job-related strengths. Show your appreciation for them as a person, which is easy when you already have assessment results of qualifications and behaviors. It will enable you to confirm that those strengths are a good fit. It will also quickly build trust, allow the interview to be more truthful, and establish a positive relationship that will more likely attract the best candidates to work for you.

You can also share your mission to find those who resonate with your company. When I started Harrison Assessments, we attracted many people to work with us due to our potential to help individuals and organizations reach their potential.

3. Create a culture of engagement. Your employees are the best representatives of your brand; by creating a happy and engaged group of people, more candidates will see the positive and healthy company culture and want to come work for you.

Thank you for sharing your insights with us!

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