Employees are an organization's richest resource. Motivated teams lead to better results in the marketplace. As such, interviewers will ask questions to determine the methods you use to stimulate innovation in team members.
Question 66. Tell me about an occasion when you increased employee morale.
situation: At AirTravel, productivity was at an all-time low. After several attempts to pinpoint the cause, we concluded that employees were receiving mixed messages on how to do their jobs. This was a result of departmental managers' consistently changing the work parameters. Though it is understandable that task specifications change from time to time, the rapid rate that these revisions were made bewildered the employees.
action: To eliminate confusion, I introduced an employee evaluation process in which managers were to set measurable indicators and expectations before a project was begun. The managers were instructed not to change those specifications without carefully considering the ramifications.
result: The new system improved employee performance and, in turn, revitalized management and staff relationships.
Question 67. Recall the last time you experienced low employee productivity. What was the situation and how did you handle it?
situation: The Stewart & Marshall law firm had over a hundred and fifty attorneys and well over three hundred support staff. For reasons I am unsure of, there were no company-wide standard procedures for the paralegals. The lack of protocol led to inconsistent practices and low productivity levels.
action: I established an internal group, called the Professional Paralegal Committee, whose members helped develop policies and procedures that focused on four key areas—service, excellence, practice, and leadership.
result: The established guidelines provided continuity of work practices and increased the level of satisfaction of the firm's partners.
Question 68. Give an example of a time when your coaching efforts failed.
situation: Seemingly out of nowhere, an employee's performance started to decline. This came as a shock, because a month earlier he had received high rankings on his review.
action: Not one to let matters spiral out of control, I met with him to discuss ways he could get back on track. During our meeting he was distant; half the time I do not believe he was mentally present. I suggested he make use of the company's Employee Assistance Program to discuss matters with someone else, as he may not have been comfortable to share them with me.
result: The employee refused to contact the EAP, and any effort that I made to reach out to him was met with resistance. As per standard procedure, I wrote him up whenever he strayed from company policy. Eventually, he resigned his position without a word as to the reason.
Question 69. Describe a time when you had to address a problem with an employee without alienating him or her.
obstacle: When I came on board at Executive-Level Suites Company, I was told that a certain employee had many complaints against her for poor work performance. Her actions caused a rift among several departments. After gathering information regarding those past offenses, I realized that the problem was her inability to grasp how each department functioned independently but also as part of a team. So when she missed her deadline to provide Accounting with spreadsheets, this caused a backup in that department.
action: As part of an initiative to bring her into the fold, and not target her specifically, I implemented a company-wide cross-training program that gave team members the opportunity to work in various departments.
result: This approach served two purposes. First, the problem employee did not feel alienated and resent the training. Second, the initiative provided all employees with an opportunity to learn new skills and see how the departments are interconnected. This effort led to greater understanding of each division's specific needs and how lateness on a project, or not answering e-mails in a timely fashion, affected the progress of others.