Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ready, Fire...

I played a lot of sports when I was growing up.  Baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse.  I was a decent enough baseball player, but at 5-foot-6, I harbored no illusions of playing at any high level of competition.   (Especially after watching "failed" major league pitchers up close and personal during one trip to Spring Training.)  In lacrosse, I was good enough to play at the Division I collegiate level, but not as a starter.  

I loved these sports, practiced diligently and consistently, and worked with my coaches to get better.  But at a certain point, I did not get any better:  I reached the peak of my abilities.  My potential was exhausted.  So, I focused my abilities and competitive drive in other, more productive areas.  I fired myself, so to speak.  So, it goes.

Several of my TAB members have been struggling with "people issues" of late.   Hiring is one of the three challenges (the others being sales and marketing) that form the "trinity" of core issues for most small business owners. 

Making the wrong hire is incredibly costly, for businesses small and large.  We're talking tens of thousands of dollars.  I won't list the studies and commentary here, but type "cost of a bad hire" into Google and you'll get 116 million results.

Why is hiring people thing so hard?  For one, it's "because we hire people for what they know, but fire them for who they are," according to one TAB member.

As Jim Collins wrote in his seminal study of successful businesses, "Good to Great:" 
“Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than with specific knowledge, background or skills.”
Getting the "right people on the bus" is the primary critical success factor in business performance, Collins found:
We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision or strategy.  We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it.”
You would think that with over 8% unemployment and a consensus that the job market won't be improving quickly, that finding quality employees would be easier.   It ain't necessarily so.

Better hiring outcomes come from better practices and process.  Your hiring practice should include:
  • A company value proposition that is compelling for the best candidates.
  • A profile of 'top-performer' characteristics.
  • A culture of continual recruiting, and a process for pre-screening only qualified candidates.
  • Detailed job descriptions with Key Performance Indicators built in.
  • Assessments for attitude as well as aptitude. 

How is your hiring process working for you?  Do you need to fire it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great summary of a good hire. Here's to hiring the next best hire. It takes some practice to get it right, and then it's not perfect, because people are not perfect. It seems some can game the system, making it more difficult. I find that a good hiring process is critical to the overall performance of the organization.