When it comes to hiring, are you a great judge of people? Most executives believe they are.

I’m reminded of an example of this. A friend of mine runs a successful company and likes to talk about the people he has hired. He says a key element for him is spending several hours in one-on-one interviews with the individual. After that, he can tell who will be successful. That all came to a crashing halt after one of the people he hired made a series of mistakes with a major client nearly costing the company the relationship. My friend fired the employee and saved the client.

Peter Drucker said that any executive who starts out believing that he or she is a great judge of people will make the worst hiring decisions. Coming from the guru of management, then, we should learn not to depend on our own judgment but on a methodical step-by-step process. A formal hiring process allows a company to become objective in their hiring process.

Here is a checklist for a great hiring process from Lou Adler:

  Define the work, not the skills needed to do the workEvery job can be described by six to eight performance objectives. If a person is competent and motivated to do this work, the person will not only be successful but likely have a different mix of skills than those listed on the old-fashioned job descriptions.

  Convert competencies and behaviors into performance objectives. Generic competencies and behaviors are poor predictors of success. It’s better to describe how the competency or behavior is used on the job as a performance objective. Then add the most important to the performance-based job description above.

  Prevent people from applying for jobs they’re not qualified to handle. Too much time is spent filtering the weaker candidates out. It might be better to prevent them from entering to begin with.

  Stop posting individual jobs. Too much time and cost is involved with job postings. It would be cheaper and more efficient to create a microsite hub for all related positions and let the system figure out the best jobs for the person.

  Stop filtering the best people out based on what they have and what they get. There is too much time spent filtering people in and out of jobs based on their level of skills and their salary requirements. The best people care less about the salary if the job represents a career move, and the best people always have a different mix of skills. That’s what makes them the best people.

  Make hiring managers responsible for hiring top talent. If hiring top people is really No. 1, managers shouldn’t be managers if they can’t or don’t do it. Start by putting this as No. 1 during the performance review.

  Offer careers, not lateral transfers. A career needs to offer some combination of job stretch, faster job growth, and a mix of more satisfying work. Add a process to modify jobs to better align with a person’s growth needs.

  Go slower. Hiring top people is not a transaction. This leads to job hopping syndrome. Instead implement a consultative discovery process that focuses on creating the career move.

  Make hiring a business process with feedback controls. A bunch of steps bolted together with duct tape and APIs controlled by data that’s weeks or months old is not a business process.

  Implement an interview and assessment process that actually predicts quality of hire. Proving a method with statistics is not the same, nor as effective, as finding the method that works all of the time through trial and error. One method that actually works is based on what the best managers who consistently hire the best people do.

  Train recruiters to recruit. No company would let its sales people sell its products without training around best practices. This is so obvious, yet no one seems to see it.

The good news for my friend is that, since the incident described above, he hired an HR professional who helped implement a structured hiring process. With that investment in an upgraded process, his hiring mistakes have dropped significantly and he continues running an even more successful company. Now, instead of talking about his own prowess of judging people, he talks about the success of his company based on the people he has hired using the formal process.

 

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