Are Mo, Larry, And Curly Doing Your Hiring?

May 13, 2010

I’m serious.

Let’s get real, have you ever hired someone you knew little about for a job you knew less about? It happens to all of us.

I started my own company for the first time when I was 29 years old. I had a pre-teenager, a young son, and a new baby due any day.

The company I was with was shutting down, literally, that night. The girls and I took our stuff and needed a place to go, FAST. I had no operations experience, no management experience, no finance, no marketing, and certainly no technology experience. I had no operational infrastructure, organizational design or business plan.

We had a couple desks, a phone, and a hard floor. Failure was not an option, as I was the breadwinner.

Our first year we did $1,000,000.00 in sales, we had a temp division and a direct hire team. As I began to think about growing, I started to hire. I hired people who reminded me of me. Imagine that? In one year I hired 35 people. All failed, were fired, quit, or stayed far….far too long.

I was a producer and I knew how to make the donuts, fry them up in a pan, serve seconds, and then make more donuts. I did this over and over again for over a decade. It was who I was.

When the Pinnacle Society accepted my application I was flabbergasted.

My billing status was a pretty big deal. I was good at this job. So the technician became a business owner, not out of a carefully designed plan, out of survival.

The bottom line is in 10 years I spun through over 100 people. Some commission, some not. When I spoke to other business owners in the staffing and recruitment industry, I was told this is what we get; our industry has an extremely high turnover, deal with it.

My paradigm for the staffing industry was developed on my first job. I was brought up in a company that hired 10 people per month and if one was left at the end of the year, that was a victory. The difference between them and me was that they had a person whose only job was to hire, train, and churn people. I was the biller, owner, sales rep, recruiting manager, HR, and the so-called trainer.

Given my strong willed personality and insatiable appetite to get better, I knew I had to change, so I went to my Vistage chair (formerly known as TEC).

Mike Donahoe sat me down and we looked at what the high turnover, poor hiring practices and mediocre on boarding was costing me. I knew it was costing me money, I never considered it was costing me time with my kids, happiness and fulfillment.

That meeting changed my life.

My coach had me take the income I earned in one year and divide it by the amount of hours in a work week. Then he had me research how long each hire was with me, and the amount of my time was spent training, coaching, fixing, correcting, answering questions and un-ruffling feathers. Then he worked with me to figure out the cost to the organization in terms of lost sales, unhappy customers, unfilled orders.

Then he had me take a calculator to it. The impact was astounding.

It was then, the fall of 2002; I chose to become a Manager. I chose to be a business leader that is effective at hiring and selecting employees, managing performance, on-boarding, compensation, employee engagement and retention. Choosing was just the beginning; I then had to learn how. It did not happen right away, it took a ton of work.

However, when I finally got it, I got it.

Before I knew it, Alliance HR Network (my previous company) was training our customer’s HR departments, Corporate Recruiters, and their front-line Chicago area managers how to hire, onboard, and manage their new employees. The better I got, the better they got.

When we surveyed our customers they told us they would like to see us offer more ‘people consulting’ services, such as performance management, hiring process training, human resource consulting, new hire selection, employee on boarding, employee retention and succession planning consulting for the people we placed and some of their key players. Our first projects were about installing effective hiring processes for growing companies.

In companies where the hiring process used to be a game of golf and a shot of Jack, they upgraded to using psychometric assessment tools in addition to an M interview and a behavioral interview to evaluate candidates. In Chicago area technology start ups, where normally a skill on a resume gets an interview, they upgraded their hiring process to glean the right behaviors, competencies and emotional intelligence required by the role. Skills are a given, they wanted more than skill from their technical consultants, they wanted to achieve corporate effectiveness through each and every hire.

Since those early days I have worked with many companies on different variations of our service offerings from Recruitment Process in Sourcing, RPI to Employee Retention consulting.

More often than not, we are bringing our recruitment, hiring, employee selection, and onboarding knowledge and processes to companies that have little or no internal Recruitment and Talent Management infrastructure.

I find it interesting, funny, and amazing that most companies do not put more of a strategic emphasis on who they hire. The ones who do have sky rocketed in sales, in innovation, in service and in customer retention. The ones who don’t, well maybe that is one of the reasons they fade away.

Progressive, hiring savvy companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, Enterprise Leasing, etc. do a very good job of following a hiring process, but most of the rest, from the perspective of over two thousand corporate recruiters and executive search consultants, don’t even come close. They treat hiring like a crapshoot or a collaborative popularity contest.

My question to a CEO of a growing organization is, “Why would you have a C player interviewing potential candidates?”

I have heard jokes cracked that Mo, Larry, and Curly led the interview in unison.

People who have never been trained in interviewing, who don’t fundamentally understand people or the role asking route questions, thinking about how much “other” work they have to do, and resenting ever minute of it.

No wonder my first sales coach, Tom, used to say: “The biggest problem with sales departments is the manager who does not know how to identify true sales people. They thought they hired John Wayne only to find out it was Woody Allen.”

I can’t tell you how many times I interview a company that hired the wrong person; he or she failed in the role because they hired from the hip and not the head.

I see that type of behavior, specifically in sales recruiting; the candidate shows up and looks strong, only to stop short of the finish line. The company, or the hiring manager, bought the shiny penny, the creative communication, and the glamour of having “the name” on the team.

If it is our job to run a profitable company, one that delivers excellent service, then it’s also our job to run an operationally efficient company.

Bad hires, people who miss the mark, people who are not aligned with the mission and vision, people who lack the work ethic and passion to get it done — they all lead to operational inefficiency and high cost.


  • We cannot compete with high overhead and operational waste.
  • We cannot compete with average sales people.
  • We cannot compete with inefficient people, systems, or tools.
  • We cannot compete without the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things, in the right way.

If your company carefully vets its investments of time, money, and resources and your people are your largest, then it’s time for a change.

It’s time to choose wisely.

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