Colleen Dutton, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at the University of Texas at Dallas, discussed what differentiates a "diamond" employee from an average worker during her keynote presentation to Argyle's CHRO membership at the 2017 Human Capital Leadership Forum in Dallas on December 6. During her presentation, "The Four C's of a Diamond Employee," Dutton offered a model to help HR professionals identify and retain top talent.
According to Dutton, many HR professionals can quickly identify talented job applicants based on candidates' technical skills. However, HR professionals must look beyond an applicant's core competencies to find a potential diamond employee.
A diamond employee stands out from the competition in a number of areas, including:
Typically, a diamond employee is driven to succeed. This worker goes above and beyond the call of duty, and as such, can have a long-lasting impact on an organization's success.
"Commitment is not about the number of hours that you put in. It emphasizes on what you are doing during the day and whether you're engaged in your work."
For HR professionals, it is paramount to learn about a job applicant's character. HR professionals must think about the day-to-day tasks associated with a role and determine whether an applicant has the necessary traits to successfully complete these tasks. Otherwise, HR professionals risk poor hiring decisions that may cost their respective organizations both time and money.
"Think about the characteristics that help a person will be successful and what will impede a person's success," Dutton noted. "Think about these things before you start interviews. Because it's really easy to find someone who's wrong for a job."
Even a single employee can make or break an organization's culture. Therefore, HR professionals must consider how a job applicant will contribute to a successful culture.
"If you don't think one person can make a difference in your organization – good or bad – you need to rethink that," Dutton indicated. "Because one person can completely derail the culture that you're working so hard to create."
HR professionals also should realize that employees at all levels affect an organization's culture. Thus, every new hire will have either a positive or negative cultural impact on an organization.
"Everyone makes a difference. There is no such thing as a neutral hire," Dutton said.
A diamond employee commits to his or her craft. This worker can maintain optimal productivity and efficiency and is engaged in day-to-day tasks. As a result, a diamond employee usually can get more done in less time than his or her counterparts.
"Commitment is not about the number of hours that you put in," Dutton stated. "It emphasizes on what you are doing during the day and whether you're engaged in your work."
Ultimately, a diamond employee's commitment makes him or her a vital contributor. This worker strives to do the best job, and by doing so, can be a difference-maker in any workplace.
"Diamond employees can jump ship and succeed in any work environment," Dutton said.
If HR professionals offer comprehensive education and training programs, they may be better equipped to help workers build the skills they need to become diamond employees.
"If the character, culture and commitment aren't there for a person, the value of his or her technical competencies decreases," Dutton stated.
When it comes to finding top talent, HR professionals commonly emphasize capability alone. Conversely, looking solely at a job applicant's core competencies may make it difficult for an organization to accomplish its desired results.
"If you don't think one person can make a difference in your organization – good or bad – you need to rethink that."
In many instances, HR professionals may prioritize capability over the other 4C's. Yet HR professionals who take this approach may miss out on opportunities to add job applicants who reflect an organization's mission and goals.
"Most of the time, if you have to let somebody go, it's not because a person can't technically do that job," Dutton said. "Most of the time, you'll let somebody go because he or she is not a really good fit."
It often helps to craft a custom list of attributes that a job applicant should have to fill a specific position. This list may help HR professionals speed up the process of finding the right candidate for any role, at any time.
"When you go out and do your recruiting, think about what you'll need in that specific position," Dutton stated. "You're trying to find a diamond in its own right."
Furthermore, an organization must do everything it can to keep its diamond employees happy. Offering these workers competitive compensation and benefit packages is essential. Also, an organization must provide diamond employees with career growth opportunities to ensure that these workers can contribute to an organization's success both now and in the future.
Colleen Dutton has served as the Associate VP for Human Resources at the University of Texas since June 2012. As the CHRO, she is responsible for the strategic leadership and direction of the Office of Human Resources. In December 2016, Colleen received the Strategic Leader of the Year Award from Pursuit of Excellence, Inc. for her efforts in reinventing the HR function at UTD.
Prior to joining UTD, Colleen was the Director of Employee Relations and Compensation at Rice University.
Colleen is the creator of The Four C’s of A Diamond Employee model – Character, Culture, Commitment, and Capability; the T.R.E.E. strategic planning model - Total Rewards, Recruitment, Retention and Recognition, Excellence in Performance, and Employee Engagement); and the P.I. E. Chart - Plan, Identify & Evaluate, a performance management and development tool.
She created, designed, and managed the TEAMS program at Rice University (Training Enables A Manager’s Success) - a yearlong leadership development program for first-line supervisors and mid-level managers with a dual focus in developing managerial and leadership skills. The success of this program earned Colleen the 2011 SHRM- HR Houston HR Leader of the Year award, and the award for Organizational Excellence.
Colleen holds a bachelor’s degree in health education from Sam Houston State University, and is SPHR and SHRM-SCP certified.