About Wendy Beach

Wendy helps clients of all sizes and industries align their human resource and business strategies, making the best use of our full-spectrum talent solutions. Her work includes developing and leading a national line of business within a Fortune 150 corporation, increasing efficiencies in talent hiring and development. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Are your employees in FLOW… or are they ready to FLY THE COOP?

FLOW. Another stressful HR trend to worry about? Not really. If reading this blog title caused you anxiety, then you could increase your skill (knowledge) about flow just enough to meet the level of challenge to apply what you know to your workplace. A little exercise within a blog.

If you are familiar with flow, skip to the conclusion or swipe/click away this blog. But if you haven’t heard or read about flow, or haven’t watched the TED talk by the guy who wrote the original book, you can learn about the concept fairly easily. It’s the challenge of applying what we learn that’s usually the trick…or the treat.

People in flow are said to be optimally creative, productive, and “time flies” when they’re having fun. They feel rewarded, energized, and yes, sometimes a bit drained from all of that focus…but flow, caused by the ideal intersection of the relevant skills to meet the appropriate level of challenge, causes growth, and increases the person’s desire to continue to grow. It’s a nice cycle.

How does this apply to your workplace? We’d be curious to hear your thoughts in comments on this blog. At Stang Decision Systems, when we’re assessing for skill gaps for our clients, we uncover areas where people are under-skilled for their jobs to help the company plan for efficient training and development. If we consider this through the lens of the flow diagram, we see that these employees are likely experiencing anxiety and are not in their optimal flow zone, where creativity and productivity are at their highest. Would the training investment, if appropriately scaled, pay off more than you imagine?

We hear more and more about how younger generations are asking for training and mentoring in the workplace, often ranking that higher than other benefits companies are investing in for their workers. Could it be that these employees know what it feels like to have the appropriate skill level/support to meet the appropriate levels of challenge in their daily activities, and they are eager to continue to grow? When thinking about retention, how do we feel about the fact that many employees leave their jobs for new workplaces where they receive more training, and, we might suggest, they feel more “in flow?”

In future posts, we’ll discuss how flow affects workplaces, including the research on the flow of successful events, teams, and organizations as a whole. We’ll also address questions left in the comments section and share your successful applications of flow in the workplace.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00November 27th, 2017|Research|0 Comments

Got diversity? Trusting talent science is key.

As someone who has spent many years in a private sector global staffing company and in the public workforce system, I know how challenging it can be to help people who need jobs find jobs.

Even during times when we are all hearing about the “war for talent” and that it’s an “employee market,” there are talented, hard-working people who have difficulties finding their fit in the world of work. I’m not talking about the “unemployable”, those with little desire to work or major barriers which need to be addressed before they can do a great job – I’m talking about people with excellent skills, experience, and work ethic. People with abilities, and the desire to work. Veterans. Skilled factory workers or miners who lost their job due to a cutback or company closure. People wanting to change careers without knowing how to best translate their transferable skills to their resumes.

At the same time, I work with companies every day that struggle to find people to fill their jobs. Some companies rush to post a job with little preparation and make offers to find they have hired a talented person who does not fit with their culture. Some rely on systems which use keyword searches for specific skills and GPA cutoffs and then they wonder why their pool of candidates is so small.

As someone who sees both sides, there is much common ground. What it takes for different groups to see common ground is communication and education. A common need which is filled for both sides. Simple, right?

Companies want and need to increase their diversity. It gives them greater perspective, enhanced innovation and increased productivity. It brings a stronger culture, and builds a talent brand which, in turn, attracts more and better candidates.

Diverse groups of people (meaning all types of diversity including age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, work experience, etc.) want to offer their talents in a place they feel they fit. They want to grow on the job and in their careers.

How do we make the match? In part we need to have better communication and better data. By describing the job requirements more accurately we can broaden our pool and attract people who are more likely to fit the role. By following the data we may learn that instead of demanding a specific master’s degree for a job, the company might get a great fit with someone who’s done something completely different, but has demonstrated the character, intelligence, and work ethic to be successful. In other words, looking beyond the one to one fit that so often defines the recruitment strategy.

In addition to better communication between the organization and the candidate, we also need better communication about the candidate. Specifically, we need a comprehensive profile of the candidate’s personality, skills, knowledge and experience, and we need insights into where and how to coach them if we want them to grow into the position.

When looking to increase your diversity, realize that if you post widely, use a broad range of predictors, and combine the results of your assessments in a statistically optimal manner, you will naturally end up selecting people with a wide array of backgrounds without having to “force it.”

Included in your group will be people with interesting stories and life experience that will bring diversity, retention and higher productivity to your team.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00August 15th, 2017|Careers, Updates|0 Comments

Choice-Supportive Bias Gives False Confidence to Your Hiring Decisions

By Wendy Beach, VP of Talent Science Solutions at Stang Decision Systems

Spoiler alert: here comes some real-life science to distract you from the daily news! In all seriousness…there is beauty, I’ve found, in the science behind what helps our company match people to jobs and jobs to people.

Because it’s good to understand why we do things a bit differently, this blog on choice-supportive bias is our first in a series of discussing the relevant cognitive biases which prevent many people from making good hiring decisions.

Once we make a choice, we have the tendency to support that choice (dig in our heels, close our minds, stick our heads in the sand…insert your favorite saying here) even if it doesn’t make sense in the face of new information. Industrial psychologists call this choice-supportive bias, and it is one of many cognitive biases that affect our decisions.

I would argue that choice-supportive bias has become even more significant as our world has become more competitive and information leading to constant decisions is available at an ever-increasing pace.

What!? Isn’t it a contradiction to say that in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive business world the “status quo” is becoming even more ingrained in our personal and professional lives? I’d argue we are living in a world of “revolving status quo.” In other words, we try even harder to maintain normalcy and consistency in certain parts of our lives because other parts are changing so quickly.

The two main reasons for this are: (1) the increase in disruption via information and technology available at any moment; and (2) choice-supportive bias. The information and technology pushes us to change, and choice-supportive bias pushes us to lock in previous choices. The conflict between the two leads to pockets of rapid change and pockets of locked-in behavior. Oddly, this implies that rapid change in many areas of business run parallel to systems that may be archaic or obsolete.

Anyone in business, from manufacturing to service, has every moment of the day filled with constant choices and decisions. Since our company is focused on talent, I’m going to simplify this conversation (whew!) and emphasize the importance of resisting choice-supportive bias when attracting, retaining and developing talent. Specifically, I’m going to use the resume as a shining example of how cognitive biases can ultimately reduce decision accuracy.

“Eyeball to eyeball and a handshake.” Does anyone else feel a bit of nostalgia for the times when this was the way you decided if a person was a good fit for your team? In the 1940’s, believe it or not, the resume was a new trend, and it typically included weight, age, height, marital status, and religion (not very PC!). It became popular as companies grew and roles became more skilled or specialized. Resumes also helped as workers had more types of work experience and more geographic mobility. For a time, this was an improvement that made a lot of sense.

The reality of today, however, is quite different. In this fast-paced world, most people do not want to spend hours crafting the perfect resume. What if a good candidate simply doesn’t use the right keywords, or has a job title or education that doesn’t describe his or her full skill set? What if some candidates pay graphic artists and editors to make their resumes shine in a way that others never will?

From the perspective of the hiring manager, who wants (or has time) to spend hours sorting through hundreds of resumes–or worse–resumes with cover letters? Hiring managers and human resources staff are often faced with mountains of paper and/or electronic documents in varying formats, fonts, and length. Nonetheless, thanks in part to choice-supportive bias, the resume has become the default tool for evaluating candidates. Resume, cover letter, status quo, check.

When a “new” idea came along in the not-too-distant past to allow technology to help us with the tedious task of going through resumes, we didn’t start from scratch and look at what computers and data could truly do to elevate the process. Instead we, as a society, collectively held on to the “status quo” while adding an electronic layer. Our “choice-supportive bias” resume protocol was still intact, and the document was simply stored on a computer.

Resume parsing, keyword searching, arbitrary cut-offs of grade point averages…those were all born of using a computer to get through big stacks of documents faster. Did that increase our odds of a great fit? Actually, even though electronic applicant systems were perceived to increase efficiency, they quickly become talent pool limiters, and often increase inefficiencies when it comes to finding the most suitable candidates for a job. There are many internet forums that focus on how much candidates hate applicant tracking systems, and internal human resources staff tend to agree.

What if we used computers and data to help us get to know people better as a first step in a hiring process, not simply weed them out? Can computers really help us be MORE human?

You’ve probably guessed by now that using technology to make the hiring process more accurate and more “human” is our focus at Stang Decision Systems. Our clients are bypassing resumes altogether and working with new ways to see their candidates as a complete person. Curious how? We’d be happy to show you.

When the resume step is eliminated, we start to wonder why we held on to it for so long. Could it be that we’re simply human, with some pesky choice-supportive bias? I think so, but I’d love to hear other theories.

As with any limiting quality, we should not expect to be other than human, or beat ourselves up over it. What we can do, as intelligent decision makers, is become more aware of our biases and search for ways to overcome them. The human brain has a wonderful autopilot mode, but when decisions are truly important, we need to take the wheel and steer toward better options. That is truly progress beyond the status quo!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00February 27th, 2017|Research, Updates|1 Comment

Should you be hiring transformers?

Here you are, in need of help. Someone left a key role to move to another position elsewhere, there was an unfortunate sickness, or you earned a big new client. Or, you may have become aware of a gap or opportunity, and you want to find just the right person—or people—to join the team.

When the decision to search for new employees is made, or made for you, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time or effort on HOW you hire; you just plain want to HIRE!

However, you do know that the cost of a “wrong” hire is huge. Each “failed” employee search costs tangible major dollars in training, lost productivity, and time to fill…not to mention intangible costs such as low morale, lost opportunities, and the toll on your employer brand. It’s scary when a new employee “transforms” into an adversary soon after you put in the effort to find and train them to be in your world. So, what can you do to find a better match right away? That person who, in all of their forms, is just right for the job? Do you have to learn and apply new terms and buzz phrases to find your new “heroes?”

One term we intuitively use at SDS and help our clients use by working with us is “transferable skills.” Sometimes you’ll hear “transformative skills.”

These are “buzz phrases”…but a buzz often starts when something has impact. There are many interpretations and definitions out there for transferable skills. Here’s one simple definition I like from www.businessdictionary.com:

“Aptitude and knowledge acquired through personal experience such as schooling, jobs, classes, hobbies, sports etc. Basically, any talent developed and able to be used in future employment.”

Most hiring managers agonize when thinking they should consider these skills as they’re searching for that “needle in a haystack” perfect new employee who can do anything. They build lists of potential transferable skills, look online, research endless job descriptions, and honestly, go in circles. If you Google the phrase, you’ll see career coaching lists helping people build transferable skills, lists of military to civilian transferable skills, and countless ways to help people understand how to better search for a match which leverages a potential employee’s different work and life experiences.

Sounds difficult and exhausting, doesn’t it? To think of, and figure out how to search for, the transferable skills which might work for your crucial role can be time consuming, inexact, and worrisome.

Another way to consider and cover transferable skills is through customized talent science. If you work with a system, like ours at SDS, which has been capturing and leveraging transferable skills for over 15 years, you’re all set.

The concept of transferable skills allows for a person’s aptitude, behaviors, and outlook to factor in to their probability of being successful in certain jobs. It’s a little bit like that phrase “wherever you go, there you are.”

By including transferable skills, you are able to cast a much wider net when recruiting, which dramatically increases your odds of finding the right person. It widens your candidate pool! One of the problems we often encounter at SDS is companies getting too focused on finding a person with the exact experience they are seeking, and, as a result, they end up excluding many people who actually have the ability to do a great job for them. They actually narrow their pool and miss out on high potential candidates, simply because some work histories don’t precisely fit what they were expecting to see.

At SDS, we have many examples of helping companies hire people who, at first glance, appear to have no business even applying…but after assessing for their specific transferrable skills, we learned that these individuals could succeed in the jobs. Some of the most successful operators our oil refinery clients have hired actually had their main work experience in surprising areas such as the fast food industry.

The takeaway here is that many terms in the world of talent seem more complicated than they really are. Transferable skills are assets almost any applicant will possess—if you customize how you look for and understand them. We take care of that by working closely with you on what you DO know—your business—and using what we know to apply the talent science which “highlights the human” in human resources, and applying the full-spectrum talent fit that includes transferable skills.

Cars that turn into warriors, or villains, need not apply.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00August 3rd, 2016|Careers, Research|2 Comments

Achieving the “Sweet Spot” for Talent Science

In keeping with the theme of answering the questions I often receive when sharing our tools with companies and human resource professionals, I’d like to put the “Where does SDS work best?” question to rest. Usually people ask if we are best at finding high-level candidates for executive positions, or big numbers of entry level, volume, production workers. The answer is yes. To both—and everything in between.

It’s human nature to have the urge to quickly throw a new concept or idea into a familiar category, in order to understand it more easily and move forward more quickly. In our fast-paced world and overloaded minds, we want to say to someone “Oh, it’s like X,” so that we can cut to the chase and take action.

It’s understandable for that conversation to happen when someone first hears about Stang Decision Systems. I hear “Oh, you’re head hunters…you’re an applicant tracking system…etc.” That’s when a few well-known industry names come up. “We already use X, so we’re set, thanks.” However, I have to reply, “SDS is not like X.” That’s the point where some learning must begin, and to be honest, it’s not easy for many busy people to make a decision to create a new spot in their mind.

Sometimes it’s harder to NOT have direct competitors, because you have to spend a lot more time breaking ground educating clients. I’d like to think it’s lonely at the top. At SDS we do a lot of knowledge sharing, which ends up great when the light bulbs turn on for people and they start getting excited about something new, which can help them do their own job better. They become like excited prospectors who’ve struck gold. That’s the fun part…getting to see customers start becoming champions of what we do because they enjoy it and see the benefits to their bottom line and their culture.

So, to answer the “sweet spot” question, SDS does not fit into one category. What we do may seem too good to be true, but it’s true that our tools work for one hire or one-thousand hires—in nonprofits or for the manufacturing sector. We don’t simply track (why just track when you can rank?) We don’t “head hunt”–we look at the whole person. We integrate layers of proven methodologies and data-based tools with the human element of structured interviews and great communication.

The best part is that it’s been streamlined into an easy-to-use portal…much like an intuitive driver’s seat for a fun sports car or a pilot’s high-tech interface. The work happens in the background after we customize on both sides – the job analysis and the candidate application. The client can use as many or as few of the features available to them as they prefer, and the outcome is the same 95% hit rate on a great match for the job.

Since our process at SDS is to customize for the exact job, and then customize the application process, you can understand why we work for any hire. You need every hire to work best for you. Is YOUR sweet spot finding the right people for each of your open jobs? That’s where we fit in.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00May 9th, 2016|Careers, Uncategorized, Updates|0 Comments

Science-Based Hiring is MORE Human Focused, Not Less

It’s about time we have new tools for recruiters and HR professionals

Wendy Beach, VP of Talent Science Solutions

How many of us get the opportunity to learn to use a whole new set of tools in our line of work?  When that happens, how many of us see it as an “opportunity”?  I’ve recently had the great fortune to adopt new tools which exceed my expectations in connecting companies with the best-matched talent.  Having been in the world of talent for over 20 years, I was a skeptical old dog, but if I can learn some great new tricks – tools – anyone can!

At SDS, we call our unique tools “predictive analytics,” or “talent science.”  They include customized job analyses, assessments which measure aptitude, safety, culture and behaviors specific to each job, and knowledge/skills testing supported with data, algorithms, and structured interviews.  (By the way, we throw out an old tool that doesn’t work anymore and slows the job down – the resume.  Ask us more about that if you’re curious!) 

Our proprietary tools require the ability to use them in the right combination for each situation–much like construction workers reach for the right tools at the right time. At SDS, we use our talent science tools in working directly for our clients, but we can also help HR professionals at companies learn how to use them.  Sounds great, right?  Well, not everyone I talk to is thrilled.  The biggest challenge I’m finding is fear of the unknown.  That’s not new when new tools come along in an industry.  Those who adapt and adopt thrive, and those who dig in their heels often end up left in the dust.

In my contributions to this blog series, I’ll respond to comments I’ve heard in my first year with SDS.  The comments I hear tend to be based on lack of knowledge and understandable skepticism.  We often say our biggest competition is the status quo.

COMMENT #1:  I pride myself on my “gut feel” about candidates.  That’s why my company needs me.  Why should I use a system that treats people like numbers? 

RESPONSE:  SDS is NOT about treating people like numbers. In fact, our tools “highlight the human” in human resources. We illuminate a 3D picture of someone who is otherwise flat on resume paper.  We actually create a wider and better matched talent pool of candidates instead of kicking applicants out if they don’t have certain keywords or GPA thresholds applied in most “status quo” systems.


A campus recruiter from a global corporation told a story recently about how he met a student on campus who didn’t even apply for his jobs because he didn’t meet the GPA cutoff.

The student had a 2.9 instead of a 3.0 GPA.

However, when they talked further, the recruiter found out the student had been working two jobs, had developed a product which was being patented, and was helping his family after an unexpected tragedy.

The recruiter realized the qualities the student exhibited were exactly what he wanted to find – but wasn’t able to find – through their usual way of recruiting.

Wouldn’t you like to spend more time with candidates you know are a closer match because they’ve taken customized assessments–matched to the exact job before you even see them in a list ranked for probability of success?  Knowing that those not on the list receive a great candidate experience which doesn’t waste their time and is actually positive for them, so that they might come back for other opportunities?

SDS talent science tools are smart additions to your daily work, and make you look even better to your clients and your company.  You get to use new tools to make your outcomes soar.  If your company could increase productivity by even 10% with a piece of machinery or equipment, that would be a no-brainer decision.

Think of this as new HR tools and equipment.  Those who adopt earlier than others will be heroes to their leaders by making better decisions with their new tools.  They’ll also likely become more involved at the strategic tables of their operations.  Where HR is already part of the executive team, adopting these new tools will be an easy decision.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00January 25th, 2016|Research, Updates|0 Comments
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