If you fail at hiring the right people for your organization you’re in for trouble. Maybe you’re already there and that’s why you’re reading this. Let’s hope you’re not, because the risk to your organization is so high.
What’s so Risky About a Poor Hire?
Fundamentally, business is about managing risk while you’re building the company. As business leaders, we all take on different risks at different times. Sometimes we make the right choices and other times we pay heavily for the wrong ones.
Just recently, we recorded a full half-hour on this topic and we include a short clip from that below, and today we want to focus specifically on this one key area.
For example, you may choose to put your entire advertising budget into skywriting and one small breeze can literally blow it all away. You lose money, you lose opportunity, and you have to change tactics. It’s not good news, but the risk is manageable.
Making the wrong hire, however, can have a much deeper impact. Imagine that instead of you being the one who chose the skywriting marketing strategy for the organization, it was the new marketing manager you hired. You put your trust in them, you gave them the authority to act, and, in this case, they made a mistake. And what if it’s not the first time?
- What if they are consistently making poor choices for the organization?
- What if they are attacking anyone who questions those choices?
- What if they are blaming others or creating division within the company?
- What if they are poisoning the culture, undermining the sense of unity, and causing other employees to think about leaving?
You get the picture. Anyone who has had the wrong person in their organization knows how far this can go: All the way to terminations and lawsuits. And for some organizations, the damage cannot be fully undone. No one wants this. So it’s essential to manage this risk very carefully.
Why do Conventional Hiring Strategies Fail?
There are a number common pitfalls that organizations run into when it comes to hiring, but there’s one in particular we want to focus on because it is often the easiest to fix, and it also shapes most other facets in your hiring process.
Perhaps the most common pitfall is that organizations don’t take the time to clearly define the role. Now this may seem deeply surprising but we run into it all the time. The question is, “Why is that?” A few thoughts come to mind:
The pain is too great. Sometimes, organizations are hurting so badly to fill a position that they will simply accept anyone who comes remotely close in profile to the person who was there last.
They’re moving too quickly. We’ve seen a number of cases where organizations have rushed to fill a position and hired a person they “liked” but who was ultimately the wrong person for the job.
They didn’t know where to start. We’ve seen role descriptions resurrected from previous hires for a position—sometimes going back many years—that no longer reflected the reality of the role. Because the team were uncertain about how to write a proper description, they simply reused one, even though it was no longer relevant.
To ensure you don’t fall into this trap, here’s an approach for you to consider. When you are developing a role description, start with a short list of three to five core requirements—things the successful candidate MUST be able to demonstrate—and use those to define the role.
This is deceptively simple but extraordinarily powerful technique. But it requires serious discipline.
It’s simple because what it suggests seems so obvious—that you clearly define the role. But as I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t happen frequently enough. It also pushes you to define the role in a few basic statements. By doing so, it helps you get absolutely clear on what capabilities are truly important for a successful candidate to have. That’s what makes this such a powerful technique.
But there’s one more piece to this, and this is where courage is required. Once you have defined the core role and stated the capabilities that a candidate MUST have, you need to treat those as MANDATORY requirements—without exception.
For example, if the role requires that a successful candidate demonstrates that they have a strong sales background, you need to stick to that. If someone comes in with a winning attitude, an easy extroverted manner, and all the skills you’re looking for, but doesn’t have a strong sales background, you need to stop.
They Either Have it or They Don’t
The core role requirements are MUST HAVES. Candidates either have them or they don’t.
There are other facets of the hiring process where you can be subjective about their capabilities and decide to develop their skills over time, but for the core role, they either have them or they don’t.
Consider this carefully as you make your next hiring decision. The more clear you are able to be in your role description, the more likely you are to receive applications from qualified candidates. It will also help you make decisions more quickly while reducing the risk in your business.