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Hellebore has looked at strategies employed by several high-performance organizations and has developed a set of core hiring principles. By understanding how to utilize these principles to reach hiring goals, we can ensure that we are growing our company with the best available technical talent. We have adopted seven core principles to guide us in our hiring process. Here I discuss the principle of Investing in Hiring Right.
The cost of hiring wrong is very high. In my experience, it takes between six and eighteen months for an individual to become truly self-sustaining. In this time, the team they are supporting is supporting them. Getting support and guidance from the group is a necessary step in helping people grow into their job, present them with the right challenges and opportunities, and for them to contribute at their highest rate. The cost of this training, however, is not negligible. There is a drain on the intellectual power that the team would otherwise bring to bear on the client or internal research challenges.
When hiring goes wrong, it can take one to three months to fire an employee once their manager decides that they are not right for the position. During this time, client relationships can are damaged, and the team dynamics will suffer. Moreover, remember that this is after it was decided that they were not right for the position. Often, managers are far too slow to make this decision.
When an individual is hired for a job that they do not fit into, the team will suffer. When the team suffers, the clients and the overall business suffers. Managers need to be able to identify warning signs quickly. They also need organizational support to make hard decisions when hard decisions need to be made. Once warning signs start to appear, the team needs to see if there is a recovery path. Developing a recovery plan (Performance Improvement Plan) for an employee is not trivial.
Even getting to where the employee needs a recovery plan means that the firm has failed them. The firm should not have put them into a position they were otherwise not qualified for. Placing an individual in a role they are not qualified for will hurt their long term employability. The position may damage their self-esteem, but it also keeps them from growing in a job they are qualified for. In other words, by not hiring right, you are doing a disservice to the employee. By quickly removing someone from a position with a bad fit, they will have the opportunity to find a position where they will flourish.
When a new position needs to be filled within the company, we first engineer the position like we are building a part in a machine. Sometimes there may not be funding for ideal machine design. In this case, we have to figure out which components are most critical. However, none the less, the position is engineered. When hiring right, we have to compare the candidate with the role we have designed. This comparison is easy when a candidate is not otherwise qualified. However, this requires discipline (especially in a tight labor market) when a candidate is highly qualified, but just not for the position being offered. It is too tempting to see how someone might be utilized or might fit some other role we were thinking about adding in the future. Here, it is necessary to objectively measure how a candidate’s values and abilities genuinely fit with the role. It can mean passing on a brilliant candidate that would not be what we were looking for.
The investment into the hiring process here means investing your time to get to know candidates. Typical phone screens should give way to an in-person interview. These interviews should be thorough and even tough. An interview must provide a forum to get to know the values, principles, and goals of the candidates. (What to look for in the interviews will be discussed in future posts about the other core hiring principles.) I have seen companies spend no more than 60 minutes “interviewing” a candidate before deciding to hire them. After only one hour, neither the firm nor the candidate can know if there is a good fit between them. If the company is not going to invest more in their screening process, then candidates should be wary of how much the company is going to invest in them after they are hired.