No Heartburn Hiring

No Heartburn Hiring

I posted a video about this process on LinkedIn yesterday and it’s gotten a good number of views, so I thought I would share the content here.

I’ve never talked to a business owner who doesn’t have at least one bad hire under their belt. It’s a scar that puts you in a fraternity. We can’t get rid of the scar, but we can help you not have another one in the future.

People make a bad hire for all kinds of different reasons. For small business owners or 1 person shops it is normally because there is a desire for quick growth, or because the owner is so loaded down with work that they just need someone - anyone! - to help. For larger organizations, it is either because they have a poor or old process (...resumes…*shudder*) or they utilize a team based process where there are a half dozen people involved.

More people means more agendas and less clarity about what the job is supposed to do.

So, here’s an easy process we call ‘No Heartburn Hiring’ to make sure you get the right person.

Define Key Accountabilities

What, exactly, is this position going to be accountable for? Why does this job even exist? This is crucial, because it sets the benchmark for what success looks like in the position you are hiring.

We recently did a job benchmark for an outside sales person and there were two key accountabilties: increase revenue through bringing in new clients, and present information to key constituencies. The more complicated the job, the more key accountabilities you’ll have (most likely).

The key accountabilities allow you to create the key responsibilities/task that the job is going to need. And those flow into the next step.

Benchmark the Inherent Needs of the Job

The responsibilities of the outside sales rep mentioned above were prospecting, networking, presenting, and communicating with many different people.

I hope this doesn’t surprise you: people are different. They have different preferences, patterns of behavior, motivations, skills, interest, intelligence - I could go on. These are not trivial, they are deeply ingrained in our brains and reinforced through our experiences.

So you need to make sure you hire someone who’s inherent patterns and preferences line up with the inherent needs of the job.

The responsibilities I mentioned above require a high amount of interaction and versatility, with a dose of urgency and competition thrown in. Someone who is ‘naturally’ inclined to those behaviors is going to perform better, and do so much quicker than someone who isn’t.

You need to benchmark behaviors and motivations for just about every position, even front line ones. The cost on even a part time, low wage position can cost you more than $5000 per hire if you hire the wrong person. For higher level positions, you want to benchmark soft skills and emotional intelligence as well, due to the impact these positions have on your culture, decision making, and future strategy.

Screen Your Applicants

At this point, your the heavy lifting on your hiring work is done. You screen your applicants with a high quality assessment that is accurate, reliable, and valid and see how they compare to the benchmark.

In this step, you are watching for gaps. A gap is where the applicants measure on a given behavior, motivation, or skill is different from your benchmark. Gaps must be addressed. They are either disqualifying for a given position, or they may be able to be adapted or developed.

As a note, figuring out gaps is what you should be doing in your interviews. You’ve already got some data on the applicant, so you ask behavioral/experience based questions about the gaps. They need to give you data about how they have successfully closed those gaps before you hire them.

Onboard New Hires Properly

Employee handbooks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to onboarding. It’s like an encyclopedia: if I need to know my PTO structure or what to wear or the steps of the discipline process, I’ll check out the handbook. But that’s just a small fraction of working at your company.

It’s important to communicate your culture and values: what you believe, why you believe it, and how that works out in your company. This is primary.

The new hire might need some concrete training - this normally comes out in the ‘skills’ section of benchmarking or selection. If they are new to selling, they may need some sales training. If it’s an R&D role, they might need to have access to research and cutting edge learning. If it is a technical role, they might need training on the systems you use.

Finally, it’s important to have a plan for development. What do you expect out of this person in 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? Where do they need to improve and how can you get them the resources to do so? This is incredibly valuable to younger employees, who have grown up receiving feedback and development ideas. I’ve seen young all-stars leave a company because they do not get any development from their company.

Better Than Rolaids

Stop treating the symptoms of bad hiring and fix the cause. This is what we do, so if you’re tired of spinning your wheels let us know.