Organizations hiring in the manufacturing industry have seen benefits from using manufacturing focused hiring assessments. These benefits could include 5-30% decreases in turnover or even 10-15% increase in overall quality of work. Manufacturing assessments can measure everything from attention to detail to leadership potential and even a candidates qualitative problem solving. That all sounds great, but what if you tried a manufacturing focused assessment and it didn't work? Make sure you are using an assessment that doesn't cause the following problems.
Problem 1: Technology Sets the Bar Too High
In this age we often assume everyone is well-versed in technology. Sometimes we just need a reminder that this may not be true. I once proctored a testing session where out of 80 participants, 3 of them didn’t know the correct way to use a mouse. At first, it seemed funny to me, then I imagined what they’d think of me on their turf. On their turf they didn’t use computers but instead were subjected to 100 degree heat, full gear, standing for 12 hours, moments away from 3 different “choose-your-injury” careless mistakes.
Solution: When you’re administering computer-based assessments, you should be mindful that a subset of your applicants may do just fine without computers. The assessment should be as user-friendly as possible, complete with comprehensive instructions, written at a basic level and created with understanding that you do NOT need to be good with computers to succeed in manufacturing.
Problem 2: Same old “g”
Benchmarking. I love it and I hate it. On one hand, it enables companies to share best practices. On the other hand, unless you’ve truly seen the best, “best” is a subjective term. When I hear clients tell me about what didn’t work about their entry-level assessments, it is almost always an off-the-shelf measure of cognitive ability (also known as “g”) that they were referred to from a friend in another organization.
Research shows cognitive ability is consistently the best predictor of performance across jobs, but that doesn’t make it the best predictor for your job, and it certainly doesn’t make it the only factor that’s important to measure in your selection process.
Solution: Incorporate more personality – Who would you rather have on your plant floor operating your crane or press: DaVinci or Rudy? Nothing against the original Leo, but I’d rather have someone who I can guarantee works hard, has a good attitude and shows up on time.
Problem 3: Knowledge is power, but Motivation is key
An unfortunate sign of the times is that although manufacturing is coming back, some industries are still waning and the labor pool is very robust with talent. This means that people with 20+ years of experience that were laid off as a plant manager may be knocking at your door for the $10/hour operator job. Most hiring managers would swoon at the prospect of having that skill-set anywhere in their plant. Sure they know the job like the back of his or her hand, but are they going to be satisfied at an entry level position?
Solution: Can he or she do the job? – Definitely. But, does the person really want to start over, on 3rd shift, working turns indefinitely, or are they looking for a fast track without paying his or her dues? You’re missing a key piece in your hiring process. Keep the technical test, but add a value-type assessment to gauge whether or not it is the right job fit.
Now that you've evaluated your hiring assessment issues, how are you going to recruit manufacturing employees?
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