3 Hiring Mistakes Most Companies Make

But you don't have to....

Hiring is hard, especially in today's workplace. The ability to promote your business, employment brand and the roles you are hiring for has never been more ample with technology and platform solutions, automation and social media. And in that same vein, the workforce has never been more fluid with the majority of employees only staying with a company for 3 years. And that reality will not be changing anytime soon. Given the fact that millennials will reportedly make up 75% of the workforce by 2030 , the future will only see increases in employees turnover and decreases in employee engagement unless companies catch up with what employees are looking for and business owners get clear on what they need from each and every role within their organization.

The cost of a bad hire can be up to 2.5 times that employee's salary with losses in productivity, time and morale. As a business owner, founder, executive or hiring leader, the single most important thing you do is deciding who will join you in your company's journey. And here are the 3 common hiring mistake most companies are making right now and what you can do instead.

1) Hiring too Fast without a Plan

In an attempt to measure all things, we decided what a great idea it would be to hold hiring managers and recruiters to the qualitative measure of how quickly they can get a butt in a seat. This urgency does not always result in the best decision making, especially when those hiring do not subscribe to the reality that hiring is the #1 most important thing that they do. We have hiring managers with the deadline looming, empty seats to fill and hurried recruiters frantically pushing anyone in the door because they have been given the responsibility, but not the authority to implement any sort of meaningful hiring plan.

Without a blueprint outlining success, hiring leaders simply do not consider the full picture of the role, leaving out other stakeholders and teams whose voices and feedback matter and can aid in a successful hire. They make these mission critical decisions in a vacuum...and, well decisions made in a vacuum often suck. This frantic rush typically results in the hiring manager bringing in a friend of a friend or the next available person to respond is called the winner as the time clock winds down. This happens way more often than any talent acquisition team would like to admit and the results...1/3 of all new hires quit their job within their first 6 months.

What to do instead: The belief that hiring is the most important thing that you do as a founder, business owner, executive, or hiring leader needs to be weaved into the very fabric of your company. Once it is, those who are not aligned will stick out like a sore thumb and can be asked to rise to the challenge or be on their way. After that, it is imperative to create and implement a meaningful hiring process that every leader can use. It is both consistent and customize-able for every role. This blueprint will allow the hiring leader to consider WHO they are looking for NOT just what. At the end of the day, you are not hiring a role, you are hiring a person who will contribute to your company and it’s mission. With that, you want to involve other stakeholders and get their feedback and insights. It is imperative to create meaningful interview steps that will uncover what success looks like for this role. This takes thoughtful and deliberate action from all of those involved and that takes time. Hire slow so you can be truly excited about your decision knowing that you selected the best to join you and your company.

2) Hiring only for Competency, not Character

Somewhere along our career path, we are told that we need to “be professional.” Our mind somehow interprets this to mean lose our humanity, do not be personal, and basically act like a robot. In our attempt to act professionally, we forget that employees and candidates are actual human beings with thoughts, hopes and dreams, and not tapping into that conversation is missing the bar in a big way. If you are looking for someone to be more than just a seat warmer and you actually want that someone to care about your company, then you will need to know them and care about them...and they will need to know that you know them and care about them. Savvy? At the end of the day, humans need other humans. This means your company, your customers and your product/service does too. That is why you hiring a person and not a machine. So quit treating people like factory made machine parts. Those come in boxes, people do not.

In most cases character will trump competency. Don’t get me wrong...competency is vitally important, but it cannot stand by itself when looking to hire the right person for your company. I do not know how many times I have heard experts, coaches and leaders in their respective fields say, I can teach _fill in competency here_, but I cannot teach _insert positive character trait here_. There is a reason they all say this...because character matters! Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual meaning you don’t create character, you find it.

What to do instead: When completing your hiring blueprint plan, there needs to be a section dedicated to character whether that is a values interview with specific questions designed to assess values fit or an employee avatar with the specific character traits that are minimum barrier to entry for the company. Perhaps even expand the avatar’s character by including the intrinsic qualities that have proven successful in that given department or role. For example, if your company is a dynamic fast moving and constantly changing landscape, then perhaps you need to find a character that possesses grit and drive. Or if you are hiring for your sales department, perhaps it is someone who is resilient or competitive.

There are excellent tools out there to help you zero in and articulate these character strengths. Once you have identified these characteristics, you can begin to test for them within your interview. Situational interviewing or behavioral interviewing are 2 effective ways to see (or not see) a character trait on display. And that is the point...to create an interview step that is designed to draw out the presence or absence of the desired character.

3) Hiring for Now, with no thought for Later

We live in a fast paced instant gratification kind of world. And with huge advances in technology, we can get more done than ever before.  We also are being asked to do more than ever before. And this need for more, more, more can often create a kind of urgency much akin to how it might feel to run around with your hair on fire. Not literally, but you get my point. In your business, the decision to hire a person often comes from a sharp and immediate pain that we try to placate with warm body. We hire to heed the problem at hand with little to no thought about what will be next for this person once the pain subsides, the product is built or the project is completed. This focus on now with no foothold in the future comes to the detriment of your company, your customers and your employees.

Without taking time to consider the full picture of the role, how this person might grow and learn, what role/s might be next for them and what additional challenges and innovations this person may contribute to in the future, you are doing a great disservice to your people and yourself. Being a leader and deciding who will join you on your company's journey requires you to have one foot in the now and one foot in the later.

What to do instead: Any company looking to grow anything...revenue, sales, offerings, customers, employees or any combination needs to know and understand the people who make up their company and how what those people do every day contributes to the company’s success. This is the foundation for planning how that success will continue in the future. In the same vein that your company has clear goals, an agreed upon plan and definitive measures in place to tell you if you are successful, so too must a company understand which roles and people are needed to accomplish the goals, deliver the plan and meet the measures in the future. This is called workforce planning; a fancy term for planning and aligning the people with the company goals. While the thought can seem overwhelming, and well let’s be honest exhaustively boring, it does not have to be.

To put it simply; begin with the end in mind, then work backwards. Look at your mission, then your goals, then metrics, then the departments connected to those metrics and ask yourself, who will we need to deliver to this accomplishment, metric or task? Is it more of a certain role, a different role, an expanded role…?

There are several workforce planning templates available online, but simpler is better. This is often a wonderful and highly connective exercise as part of a leadership retreat or off site sparking meaningful conversation about the “how” and the “who” of your company’s mission and goals. It is not one and done. You will refine over time, then refine again, but begin, because version one is better than version none. And the sooner you create a workforce plan, the sooner you can align those growth and progression opportunities to your employees. This will give you a clear line of sight to what talent can be grown and developed within your company and what talent you will need to look for outside. Completing your workforce plan at least 3 years out will give you the time to grow more talent from within, which is preferred, of course.  As it is easier to increase sales through a customer you already have, so to is it easier to develop the talent from within your walls.  

In today’s workforce, hiring matters more than ever. These concepts are simple, but they take intentional thought and focus. The reality is that our hiring practices must evolve to keep up with the new workforce. A workforce that wants more and that has never been more connected thanks to the use of social media and technology. It is time we face some hard truths. US companies spend more than $550 billion dollars annually due to a disengaged workforce. Hiring is your very first chance to right this sad fact. So as, Alan Deutschman said, “change or die.”

It is time to break out of the corporate box of “this is the way we do it because it is how we have always done it. Well, what got you here, will not get you there. It will not serve you in the future and will continue to cost you astronomically with employee turnover and decreases in employee engagement . So here it is...your chance to get clear on what your candidates are looking for and what you need from each and every role within your organization. Do that and the future will be bright.


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