Case Study: Spherion®
Spherion® is a leading staffing and recruiting franchise specializing in placing job candidates in temporary and fulltime opportunities. An industry pioneer for more than 60 years, Spherion is one of the nation’s largest employers serving the workforce through a network of offices across the United States and Canada. Spherion franchise has been recognized five consecutive years as a World-Class franchisor™ by the Franchise Research Institute®.
In 1994, Jill Berg started a Spherion Staffing franchise to serve North Dakota and West Central Minnesota. As a seasoned business owner, Berg knew she needed to identify the people and the tools that would help to establish and grow her business. A managing partner at Eide Bailly, one of the nation’s top accounting firms and a Predictive Index® (PI®) client since 1986, suggested the 10-minute behavioral assessment from PI to help her gain a deeper understanding of herself as a manager and leader.
After completing the PI assessment, she was “fascinated” by the level of depth and accuracy the results provided in a short assessment. PI identified Berg’s greatest strengths as a team builder with a people-oriented sales style. While these were important strong suits, it also made her realize she needed a partner who could run the operations on the back-end with the same vigor. She explains, “I needed to find someone who could complement my behavioral skills so I could focus working on the business.”
“In a franchise community, tools are accepted or rejected based on results – PI is accepted!
Our franchisees rely on PI to make internal hiring decisions possible and use PI results in team building and team alignment.”
Vice President of franchise Division,
Predictive Index® in Action at the Franchisee Level:
Using the PI for her first senior level hire, Berg selected John Funk to serve as Account Manager and head of operations. Funk’s PI pattern indicated he would run the business agenda like it was his own but would also be able to manage the day-to-day, allowing Berg to focus on what she does best—consult and sell. Like Berg, Funk was very strong in sales, but his technical, numbers-focused approach would complement Berg’s sales style.
Sixteen years after joining Spherion, Funk continues to be a key contributor to the Spherion brand. Today, he serves as an Area Manager, a position that matches his PI profile well because it allows him to think analytically and operate strategically.
Berg has continued to incorporate the PI in her personnel decisions and considers the tool an important piece of the hiring puzzle. “It’s easy to be wowed by someone in an interview or by their references but the PI is what really shows you what this person will bring to the table and how you will need to manage them.” Berg recalls one case when interviewing a candidate for a position that would require him to work on-site at a client’s location. Berg and her team were so impressed with his credentials and the way he presented himself in the interview they chose to disregard the fact that his Predictive Index showed “some red flags” with respect to the job. In this position, which required the employee to exert a lot of self-management, the candidate’s strong social drive—which originally charmed Berg and her colleagues—became a detriment in that particular role. Berg explained that as the PI had predicted, his strong desire to please others made him like a chameleon—saying and doing what he thought others wanted to hear and never actually getting any work done. This mis-hire that could have potentially damaged a client relationship served as an important lesson for Berg and her team. Berg explains, “We have never made a hiring decision since without considering the insights provided by the PI.”
As Berg’s Spherion franchise business continued to flourish, reaching the multi-million dollar mark and expanding to 15 employees across two branch offices and one on-site location, Berg began focusing her energies on the executive-level customer. To meet the needs of a broadening clientele, Berg created a specialized role called a Professional Recruiter. Using The PI Job Assessment job profiling tool, Berg was able to determine the behavioral needs of the new position. With input from her immediate colleagues as well as other franchisees, Berg concluded the ideal candidate would be someone who was assertive and persuasive without being overly promotional. Using the PRO in conjunction with the PI, Berg and her team were able to identify the right candidates for the job.
In addition to using the PRO to better understand the needs of a job, it provided Berg and her team a process to reach consensus on job descriptions to ensure every person involved in the hiring process would be on the same page. For instance, Berg recalls, when the company was hiring for an internal recruiting assistant position, there was much disagreement about what the job role looked like; some people felt the person needed to be more salesfocused.
Ultimately, using the PRO it became clear this position would be best suited for someone who would be heads down supporting the service team and taking care of all applicant details while others are doing the fulfillment. For Berg, this exercise taught her and her peers a valuable lesson for future hiring. “Not everyone can be the ‘sail;’ what we needed was a ‘rudder.’ We’ve learned as a group that we need several different positions that require very different behaviors.”
Franchisor Shares PI with Franchisee Network
As a successful and well-connected entrepreneur in her business community, Berg began sharing her Predictive Index experience with her peers. As more and more business owners came to her with questions about the tool and interest in bringing it into their organizations, the seasoned businesswoman saw a new opportunity to formally consult with local businesses on the use of PI in their organizations for talent selection and management. In 2010, Berg became an official PI Consultant for PI Midwest, a PI member firm.
Around this time, Berg continued to be an active member of the Spherion franchise Owner community even serving on its national board. During one Owners Conference, Berg discussed the benefits her organization had realized in using PI, both in building the company and helping her employees do their jobs more effectively.
Spherion Corporate, already a PI user, realized through these discussions how much more they could be doing with the PI to support their franchisees with hiring decisions and employee development. As a result, Berg trained several senior executives to enable them to expertly manage the administration and interpretation of the Predictive Index. Berg adds, “We strategically sought to train managers who work with owners and support franchisees in the field.” As a result, Spherion Corporate began to make the PI more readily available to all franchisees. Berg introduced the tool at the Spherion National Owner Conference and it gained a good deal of interest. Today, Berg reports that the majority of the 70 franchise owners have used PI in a variety of ways; a large percentage rely on PI to support their hiring decisions.
Since the PI has been introduced to the Spherion community, feedback from owners has been overwhelmingly positive. Berg notes that owners are finding they feel more confident with their hiring decisions because they are based on objective data rather than “gut” feelings. According to Berg, the Predictive Index provides awareness inside an organization which eliminates frustration and empowers people to be successful.
According to Sandy Mazur, Vice President of franchise Division for Spherion Corporate, “In a franchise community, tools are accepted or rejected based on results – PI is accepted!” She adds, “Our franchisees rely on PI to make internal hiring decisions possible and use PI results in team building and team alignment.” As Berg notes, most franchises operate with a lean staff of less than five employees making it even more critical for a franchise owner to select and retain the right person from the start. In addition to leveraging PI as a hiring tool, Berg cites about half of franchise owners also use PI for internal team building. Many of her peers use the PI to better understand themselves and team dynamics to make work more efficient and profitable. She adds, “Every market is different and every owner is different so franchisees can really customize their roles.”
Following the wide adoption of the PI by Spherion franchisees, Spherion corporate is looking forward to developing PROs for several positions that the network can utilize in within their organizations. They are also considering implementing the tool for franchisor selection and development as well as potentially engaging with PI in conducting a validity study aimed at determining what a top franchisee looks like from a personality standpoint. Berg concludes, “When I entered the market, I think my franchise soon rose ahead of our competitors because I had the understanding of the Predictive Index to help guide my hiring decisions. Using PI, I was able to build a strong team that would push the business forward. Today, I can’t imagine running my business without it.”
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