How To Hire Good People, part 1

At River Run, we typically work with clients whose businesses are seriously growing. For some of them, growth is kind of new. Our strategic execution program lit a fire under them. Others have been growing steadily. They work with us to get their hands around the exponential growth in challenges they face, including finding good people.

Whatever the situation you’re in, one result of sustained success and growth is the need to hire new people. A huge percentage of our clients complain that this in nearly impossible.

Does your hiring process resemble something like the following? First, someone (maybe a few people) puts together a job description for the role you are trying to fill. Then someone places an ad and creates a listing on your company website. Usually, after getting few or poor responses, you call some headhunters and agencies to try to find a number of decent candidates from which to choose. Finally, once you get some people in the door to interview, you ask the candidates questions about their past experience and their hopes for the future.

After going through this time consuming process, which usually involves multiple people in the organization, you choose someone who seems to know what they’re doing.

As often as not, you’re not doing much more than rolling the dice.

After 12 to 18 months of trying to work with the new hire, you’ll find that you’re strongly considering if, how, and when to let the person go. Other times, after staying 12 to 18 months, your new hire finds a new job at another company, leaving you having wasted time on training and accommodations. The end result, after probably two years of looking for and then hiring the correct candidate, is that they didn’t help you move the ball forward. Or worse, they actually took the company a few steps back.

Of course, you hire many people who keep their jobs for years. But of these people, how many are really making the contribution you hoped they would? Unless your answer is “almost all of them,” you’re probably hiring wrong. You can be sure you’re hiring poorly if most of your hires either leave your company within 18 months and/or linger on indefinitely delivering mediocrity.

Since you do your homework to describe the role you’re trying to fill and you’re somewhat selective before you hire, the tendency is to assume that there’s something wrong with the hiring pool, the millennials, your employment agency, the education system, society at large, etc.

Really, the issue is that you’re failing to effectively describe and interview for “cultural fit.” Another way of saying this is that you’re failing at hiring people with the right attitude.

So how can you tell if someone is a fit or has the right attitude?

Remember those corporate values you defined during your strategic planning sessions? The ones you review annually to ensure are still relevant? You should be evaluating your potential hires according to your values.

Assuming your values are real values and not “marketing values” or throwaways, only hiring people who can demonstrate that they are aligned with your values will save you future headaches.

This means you have to come up with interview questions that reveal something about how the candidate is likely to act or react in certain situations. You can do this by asking how they have acted in previous jobs, or by presenting hypothetical (but realistic) scenarios from your world. Of course, you should make sure that everyone involved in the interviewing process is well aware of your values, and is armed with their own questions to ask to demonstrate them.

The first step to hiring good people is knowing what the definition of a good person is.

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Why Execution Makes All the Difference in Strategic Planning and Training
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The 3 Requirements for Finding the Right Fit – How to Hire Good People, part 2
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