ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - June 2001


Issue Highlight — A Sad and Grateful Remembrance
- Peter Block reflects on the life of friend and colleague, Joel Henning. Read about his lifelong contributions and what we can learn from his vision for a brighter future.

 In This Issue...
A Lesson In Leadership
Holding On
Microfiching For A Solution
Solving The Presentation Puzzle

Reopening "The Diary Of A Shutdown"

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Brief Cases

Return to NFC Index

Views For A Change

Consultant Q&A

John Runyan Responds:

Integrating employees as interviewers and contributors into hiring processes makes a great deal of sense in certain circumstances, with the right purposes and with clear parameters. When the conditions are right, this kind of employee involvement can yield important dividends—not the least of which may be increased employee satisfaction with their influence in their own workplace. However, in the absence of the right conditions, employee involvement can be superfluous, irrelevant and even damaging.

The Right Circumstances
I believe that employees should primarily be involved when hiring decisions are made about their peers. Managers should include representative employees as interviewers and solicit their observations and opinions when key workers at their level and on their teams are being hired. These representatives might even help with the shaping and wording of the job description for openings in their areas.

   Employees should also be involved when supervisors and managers with whom they will have to collaborate closely are selected. This is particularly important in organizations where supervisors/managers are asked to serve more as team leaders than hierarchical authority figures.

A Clear Purpose
The purpose of employee involvement needs to be clear in everyone’s minds. Specifically, representative employees should only be included when their observations, information and opinions will really be valuable in the hiring process and really be used. Employees should be encouraged to participate throughout the hiring process with all realistic candidates—asking penetrating questions, posing realistic scenarios and pressing for candid answers during the interview process. Then the representative employees should participate fully in the interview debriefs and reviews of all candidates before the hiring managers make their decisions.

   It is a mistake to include one or more employees whose input will not be used merely as symbolic or token members of a hiring group. This does not mean that employee representatives should have the only say or a veto over hiring decisions around which they are consulted. However, to avoid damage to management credibility and employee morale, this is not a time where mere lip service should be given.

   Finally, managers need to set clear and appropriate parameters for the involvement of selected employees in their hiring processes. For example:

• Managers and employee representatives should discuss and reach understandings up front about hiring criteria, equal opportunity and affirmative action factors and anything else that should be taken into account in the interview process.
• Those employees who are selected for participation and who voluntarily join these processes should be informed and briefly trained about the legal and ethical boundaries that exist for questioning prospective employees.
• Everyone involved in the interviewing process should establish expectations and boundaries around the confidentiality of information gathered in the interviews both for the time of the deliberative process and when the hiring process is complete.
• Those who participate should have input into the design and timing of their part of the interviewing/screening process.

If you and others in charge of hiring ensure conditions like these are met and that clear parameters are set, I believe you will gain the advantages of employee participation and avoid the disadvantages of a flawed process.

JOHN RUNYAN is a Senior Consultant, now affiliated with Leadership Everywhere, LLC, in Seattle. An educator and consultant for 25 years, he specializes in coaching leaders and helping to create "learning organizations." His e-mail address is John's colleagues, Elaine Sullivan, Leopoldo Seguel, Rhonda Gordon, Rene Pino, Catherine Johnson and Merrilee Runyan, inspire and help him to think carefully and write clearly in response to these questions.

Vince Ventresca Responds


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