Hiring for Succession

Nov 21, 2008

When a company hires someone who does not succeed, it can cost 3 to 6 times the amount of the hiring salary. Besides salary, taxes, and benefits, there are other hidden costs, including the loss of new business and business in general, as well as the impact on employee performance, productivity, and morale.

A deeper look reveals more impact specifically directed at the hiring manager (ultimately accountable for the failed attempt), loss of reputation among peers and staff, as well as credibility as a leader capable of surrounding himself with winners.

Let’s not forget to mention the risk-related impacts when a poor hire terminates; legal, HR, intellectual capital, unemployment, etc.

Media from the Wall Street Journal to CNN, Good to Great, Top Grading, and hundreds of CEOs with whom I’ve spoken, agree that one of the top strategic initiatives of many companies is hiring not only new talent, but also the right talent.

What your internal, external, and management team recruiters need to understand and embrace is that while there is a talent shortage, growth-oriented companies are demanding more of their workforce, and are unwavering in their expectations to attract and hire difference makers.

Companies in tune with the global demand for talent as well as the changing demographics and psychographics affecting their workforce are painfully aware of their inability to attract, select, retain, and develop the right people on their own.

All of this means these firms have to make investments in systems and operating practices that elevate their ability to attract and retain the best. Companies choosing to leverage their opportunities for innovation, competition, and achievement of corporate objectives know they need to invest in and partner with industry experts who specialize in building hiring systems and teams, retention programs, and leadership and employee development programs.

Begin with the End in Mind

Recruiting is where it all begins. There is no employee development program on the planet that can rebirth a poor manager with poor competencies into a great leader if they fundamentally do not have the right behaviors, values, and motivations.

When the right core traits are present, competencies can be learned; when they are not present, all the training in the world cannot and does not make a difference.

Assessments and behavioral interviewing can make a huge impact in your ability to position yourself as masterful in Talent Acquisition. When you take the step and gain the ability to bring the future to the present and predict what will show up in the performance review, you elevate your ability to hire right.

Assessing the candidate starts with uncovering and articulating your core values and rewarded behaviors. Identify common denominators of top performers and then review competency and behavior gaps that you need filled. Once you and your team have fully communicated where you are going, then and only then is it appropriate to declare whom you need to hire.

Facilitate a discussion about the key performance indicators for the role and how performance in the role is measured. If you don’t know, bring in a professional to facilitate a discussion. You certainly cannot recruit for a job and successfully fill it with the right impact player if no one knows what great performance looks like.

Analyze the role and ensure that what this role is accountable for doing directly impacts the performance indicators, as many times when you do this you will find that the role is doing a lot of things that never affect the performance indicators.

Most companies know that they lack the skills to create great job descriptions and core functions, they know they need help, they know their hiring process does not always work, and they know they cannot afford another mistake, so don’t be afraid to get help if you need it.

The last thing you do, before you list the requirements for filling the role, is talk about the real person you need. Ask questions like, “If I find a person with the perfect resume and the wrong behaviors, what is the impact?”

Most companies realize and have experienced the problem of hiring the resume and inheriting a bad apple.

Actually, what I am starting to hear more of is, “Help me find the right person — who honors the company values and causes great things to happen, and has transferable skills — and I will teach them the industry.”

Companies that have been burned by the right words on a resume are well aware that people get hired for their experience and/or resume and get fired for who shows up on the job.

Questions to Ask to Discover Ideal Candidates

“So, how would the ideal candidate be motivated?”

By Money. Power. Making a difference.

“What would they value? How would they manage people?”

Through inspiration, delegation, development.

“What management and/or sales style would most work here? What would the ideal candidate’s thinking be like? Would they think from a place of integrity, innovation, common sense, of high-level decision making?”

Once you and your team understand who the ideal is, go out and find this person. Be firm about your selection criteria and follow a systematic selection approach. Don’t compromise on behaviors, values, motivations, or core required competencies. Understand that skills and experience can be learned by a highly competent, strong-willed candidate committed to the same end game as you.

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