Hiring is one of the most important aspects of a leader’s job as an individual as well as an essential mechanism for any organization to achieve consistent pursuit of excellence. While there are many systems which proclaim their ability to weed out the bad eggs, there are plenty of companies large and small that find themselves in a cycle of hiring stinkers. Thankfully companies such as Zappos, which are touted for their exemplary cultures, have had to learn many of their lessons the hard way (like the rest of us), as “CEO Tony Hseih once estimated that bad hires had cost the company well over $100 million (Fatemi, 2016).” This same Forbes article notes, “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee's first-year earnings.” You may recover from the waste in financial resource but think of how much time and stress compounds the pain of those failed hires. This reality calls for more intentionality in developing a system that attracts, acquires and retains good candidates for your culture, values and systems.
Understanding your own values helps guide your process for acquiring talent.
While many of those in leadership shoot from the hip and trust their gut, the risk outweighs the reward when your hiring mechanism hasn’t evolved since the days when you entered your given profession. Bad habits consistently produce bad results, yet the nuances and systems proposed by many of the top authors and business minds are often more cumbersome and costly than a bad decision, which is why many of those in leadership avoid these complex mechanisms. Organizational Physics author, Lex Sisney, wrote a follow up to his scientific approach to business and shares a less complex solution in the aptly titled How to Think About Hiring: Play Smarter to Win the Talent Game, “Consistently great teams don’t scout and hire for talent. They scout and hire for talent that is a supreme fit for their system. They always think about building a team with a strong collective identity at a fair price instead of just collecting individual talent at any price.” To make significant changes you will need to adjust both how you think about as well as how you approach hiring, but a good system does not have to be as complex as an NFL draft board.
Narrowing your focus helps guide your system for acquiring talent.
In our humble opinion, it has consistently been a positive experience in service based industries to hire candidates with minimal direct experience rather than seeking experienced employees from competitors. The reason we like to find new hires that don’t have direct prior experience in our industry is that they also don’t have the bad habits or the pessimism of being burned by a competitor in our market space, which unfortunately happens all too often. Benjamin Franklin spoke accurately when he said, “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them,” which we covered previously in our article on attracting talent. This does not mean that we don’t look for relevant or transferable experience such as customer service, sales and/or comparable skills, but we don’t find much success in recruiting from the castaways of our competitors. This is a mindset where our leadership team has committed to training hires to learn both our culture and values as well as the skills required to succeed in our profession.
To a fault, we will always express multiple times to a candidate throughout the hiring process that we are able to teach them the professional skills that are necessary to succeed with our organization but the three things that we need them to bring to the table are 1) be honest, 2) be hard working and 3) be willing to learn. Of all the things we can teach a potential candidate, we cannot change their character or their core values, so we need them to bring the three principles of being honest, hard-working and willing to learn to the table. If a candidate will bring these three things with 100% effort than we can develop them into a productive service representative of our organization, if they have intelligence and a core commitment to excellence than we can make them very successful (as they have the potential to succeed in anything they put their effort into). When you as a leader as well as collectively as an organization understand your values it creates a focus on what values you are looking for in candidates. As with the regular daily tasks of employment, clarifying what you as an organization bring to the table and what you need from a candidate in order for them to embrace the vision for your team will create a more consistent path to development of new hires as well as the upholding of the existing culture. As there is parity in the NFL, the margins of success and failure are often very thin, which means that simple changes have the potential to produce sustainable positive changes.
What have you learned about hiring that has helped you to be successful?
Fatemi, F. (2016, September 28) The true cost of a bad hire – it’s more than you think. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/falonfatemi/2016/09/28/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire-its-more-than-you-think/#67700bc44aa4
Sisney, L. (2013, December 6) How to hire like the NFL’s best teams. http://organizationalphysics.com/2013/12/06/how-to-hire-like-the-nfls-best-teams/
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