Do to some recent involvement in hiring processes I felt like it would be a good time to share some insight on what I have learned. As an employee or an employer the following information will help you find a good fit. It is amazing at how little thought is given to the pairing of workers and jobs. You would not ask a quarterback to play defensive end or a goalie to play center, so why do we throw people into positions they fundamentally are not geared to handle?
Your customers pay you in the short run; your employees pay you in the long run. I don’t remember where I came across this this but it speaks to the gravity of your team dynamics and a business’s ultimate success or failure. Sports analogies seem to work best so I will continue to lean on them. Each year a lot of people pay close attention to what players their football team has drafted…why? This is because it is the talent that ultimately feeds into the team’s ability to perform. Really good coaching staffs find the players that they believe will best round out their current lineup. Super stars are nice but in many cases they don’t help the team perform on the whole. This is why you will see #1 draft picks traded off for any number of other players.
A well balanced team that has strong players in each position will constantly out perform a team that was simply thrown together. In your organization if you are not being intentional about what players are needed, or which positions are at a deficit you may be setting yourself up for failure. At best you are not maximizing what could be. The sad thing is there is no way to quantify an opportunity loss by persisting a poor team. A good team on the other hand is quantifiable. You will look at your bottom line and be surprised at how your profits doubled when all you did was fire that trouble maker and replaced him with a good hire.
A good employee will pay you in the long run because that is the perspective they have. They are looking around the corner to see how their actions are affecting others, and how what they do today will affect what happens tomorrow. A poor employee wants to punch a clock do as little as possible and leave the second their shift is up. There are positions that require this and for those you can pay the bottom dollar because anyone can do the work. For the positions that are a bit more involved or specialized you will want to keep an eye out for the employees that knock the ball out of the park. When you find one of these be quick to pay them what they deserve, they are already paying for themselves in ways you may never know.
Fire fast and hire slow. By now you should be getting the idea that the people you hire are some of your biggest assets. No one know this better then Dave Ramsey. I recently went through Dave’s book Entreleadership and one of the areas that jumped out to me was his approach to personnel. To get into the specifics of Dave’s process you will need to read the book but on the surface let me tell you there is a lot to be said for giving your work force the attention it deserves. A good hire is worth their weight in gold, a bad hire is like cancer. So why would we not fire fast and hire slow?
Fire fast. Firing someone is not fun but I can tell you keeping someone around that shouldn’t be is even less fun. By allowing someone to stay on your team that is a cancer will make your life miserable and bring down the moral of your entire group. It will also play into your productivity and eat into your bottom line. One thing to keep in mind when firing is that you will be doing yourself and the individual you are terminating a service. By allowing them to stay you are actually hurting them. It is obvious they are not a good fit, letting them go frees them up to find something that is.
Hire Slow. Most people take time to make big commitments and bringing a new member to your team is a big commitment. A long vetting process may not sound like fun and will likely require you to go without the help you need right now but in the long run it will be worth it. If you can’t find the person you need in many cases you will be better off leaving the spot empty than settling for whoever walked in the door. This is also why you should always be on the lookout for good people. Jim Collins refers to this as getting the right people on the bus. He goes over this dynamic in detail in his book Good to Great.
The right people don’t need a lot of direction or supervision. The time you take to make sure someone is the right fit will pay large dividends in the long run. This will require you to be very intentional when defining the jobs and positions you are looking to fill. Don’t expect to make a good hire if you haven’t taken the time to first understand everything you are calling them to do. The less you understand about the position you are looking to fill the less likely you will be to find an appropriate candidate.
When you do hire begin with a probation period. This is a widely used practice that makes it safe for both the new hire and the company as they begin their working relationship. The employee has the right to walk away at any time and the company doesn’t have to carry the full cost of the employee benefits. Have a stated period of time such as 90 days at which point you can sit down together and decide what to do next. If one or both of you is on the fence it is the perfect opportunity to go your separate ways.
Align the position with the employee’s aspirations. People are not machines and can’t be expected to fit in the box you create for them. Shape positions around your people, not people around your positions. This will allow the company to get its needs fulfilled and it will encourage and energize the employee. People want to spend their time doing what they enjoy. Conversely they don’t want to spend time doing things they don’t enjoy. If you force someone into doing a job they hate they won’t be doing it very long or very well.
Working with people is delicate endeavor but can be one of the most rewarding things you do. Your people are your team and your responsibility. Much of their success and failure will hinge on how you lead them.