Two of the most important decisions business leaders make are hiring and firing employees. Businesses succeed or fail largely because of their people, and the costs of having the wrong person in the job, or of having to hire and train for the same person over and over can be very high. So let’s take a look at how to make major personnel decisions intelligently and efficiently, starting with the hiring process.
Hiring the wrong person, or failing to properly train the right person, can be expensive; Bad hire costs can be 30% of annual compensation. And yet, 46% of new hires fail. Only 19% are outstanding successes.
A big part of the problem is that most people don’t really know how to hire the talent they need. In my experience, most hiring decisions are made based on knee-jerk reactions and assumptions, not through careful assessment of the candidate’s qualifications. The other issue is that most organizations lack an effective way of on-boarding new hires, so some people who could have been excellent employees don’t work out. You can bring in a consultant to take care of your hiring for you, or you can develop your own process. In either case, establishing, maintaining, and using a clearly defined hiring and training process can dramatically increase your success rate and reduce your costs.
Define Success First
When defining a position, go beyond the technical characteristics found on the resume. Do you want someone who is innovative, or someone who is happy to follow procedure? Do you need a gregarious leader or a self-motivated independent worker? Do you need someone who can think months or years into the future, or does this job require only planning for short timeframes?
It is these qualities, more than anything else that will determine the success or failure of the employee. There are a variety of assessment tools available that can help you quantify and measure behaviors that will align with your requirements for the position. If you have an exceptional individual in the role, use him or her as a guide in defining your expectations for the next hire.
Prepare for the Interview
Ahead of the interview, ask the candidate to complete an assessment questionnaire. Formal assessments don’t make the decision for you, but they do prepare you to ask better questions during the interview. For example, I once interviewed a woman who had years of experience with the financial software package we were using at the time. I was in seventh heaven, thinking she was perfect for the job. But her assessment showed that she loved social interaction and hated repetitive tasks. The job she was interviewing for was largely solitary and extremely repetitive. Based on the assessment, I was able to ask her focused questions about what kind of work she really wanted. Ultimately, we both agreed she wasn’t a good fit for the position.
Prepare the New Hire for Success
“Onboarding” is the process of bringing a new hire into the company and helping the person really become a member of the team. Onboarding includes formal education but goes beyond it, often lasting about a year. Many companies neglect onboarding and either leave new employees to figure it out on their own—which sets them up for failure—or assign someone to try to communicate everything verbally. Extensive verbal education is very time-consuming and many people do not learn well that way in any case.
Think about what information the new person needs and how it should be communicated. How will you introduce the culture of the organization, as well as the skills necessary for that particular position? Remember that not everyone learns or even thinks the same way and that the same training process may not work equally well for everyone; consider carefully where doing things your way is a job requirement and where you should really be willing to bend to accommodate an employee. When I used to travel a lot for business, I would usually take the new hire along. Very quickly I got a read on their work ethic, presentation, communication, and style, while they got the benefit of seeing me in front of clients and quickly learned the brand and value proposition.
Consider what the Candidates Are Looking for
Remember that just as you are thinking about which candidate will fit your business, the candidates are considering whether you will fit them. You need to make sure your business appeals to the kind of employee you want. If all you are offering is a job with a paycheck, your more talented people will leave when they get a better offer. You’ll get stuck with the folks who don’t have anything on the ball. It is in your best interest to create a company where people want to stay, a professional home, rather than just a job.
This is Part 1. Part 2 shall be published shortly 4/30/2016