Whether you’re a start-up, growing business, or established Fortune 500, the market for labor has never seemed tighter than in recent months. Talent is scarce yet budgets are thin, and making the wrong hire can cost fifty percent or more of the hire’s first year salary inclusive of the time, effort and non-recoverable resources associated with both the wrong hire and the new replacement. Having hired dozens of team members at all levels of an organization from executive level to entry level, and with start-ups and Fortune 500’s, I’ve found the following key guidelines that will help in making the right hiring decision while saving money along the way.
1) Do you really need to make the new hire, and add headcount, expenses, and the associated management time and effort?
Consider using the “gig economy” to contract specific skills when needed and as needed. With resources like Fiverr (https://www.fiverr.com) at your disposal, a diverse global workforce is now accessible to anyone. Consider someone already inside the company. Consider reallocating existing personnel from another department to avoid the need for the learning curve of hiring from outside.
2) Does the position being filled provide more value in the immediate term, or long term?
In a tight labor market the “ideal” hire is not as easy to find as it once was. Organizations often make the mistake of placing industry experience over aptitude and capability. For example, I still see almost all job openings requiring “x years of experience in selling widgets. ” Hiring managers needto ask themselves in such situations if the most important part of the job is to know “widgets,” or is the most important part to have fundamental and proven experience and the ability to learn the needed “widget” knowledge? Determine whether experiential knowledge or aptitude for the role is more important, and prioritize the recruiting criteria accordingly. Don’t let “experience” be confused with true aptitude to successfully perform within a given role. If you need results next week, industry knowledge and experience counts. When the hiring need is for longer term and larger scale results, ensure overall aptitude is the dominant hiring metric.
3) Be clear about hiring for the right culture and fit.
Especially with so many start-ups and even large organizations taking on an entrepreneurial feel, it is critical to ensure the size, scope, and projected growth of the role are consistent with the career paths of the individual being hired. With so many qualified candidates having similarly qualified technical skills, often the key to success is better more measured by how they collaborate with others, as well as share information and knowledge for mutual shared success.
4) Find employees who are not afraid of embracing healthy conflict, and use this as strategic advantage.
"We don't all have to get along all the time!" Hire someone who can be confident in taking and providing honest and candid feedback in a professional manner. If you’ve developed a culture of trust and open collaboration, you’ll find more success by hiring individuals whoare comfortable standing behind their own knowledge and experience, yet at the same time able to support consensus of the team over their individual agenda.
5) Test for “Drive”. I’ve successfully used resources such as SalesDrive (https://salesdrive.info) when putting together sales teams. This test measures an individuals 1) Need for Achievement, 2) Competitiveness, and 3) Optimism. We can readily teach product knowledge, company processes and procedures; however, we can’t teach the innate desire to win. Aptitude, attitude, motivation, need for achievement, etc. are attributes that cannot readily be taught. As managers, we can provide incentives to drive certain behaviors, but we can’t teach drive. Don’t wait until after they’re hired to find out.
"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." Theodore Roosevelt