The following is a guest post by Jessica Edmondson.
Ever wonder what is the best path to effective management? The Internet is notorious for offering more resources than we could ever dream of needing on how to achieve the best management style, or on how to translate your business management degree into a training strategy that works best for your company. The truth, however, is that we could read articles like that all day and still be left wondering.
The answer, in fact, is simple: Hire good people. Effective management begins, grows and thrives when the right candidates are hired.
Unfortunately, the reverse happens all the time. When team members are brought on hastily or for the wrong reasons, it can quickly stifle growth, create discord among co-workers and eventually bring a business’ effectiveness down to an unsustainable level, one that could put an entire organization at risk.
For starters, let’s take a look at the effects of bad hiring choices and why employee selection is possibly the most important business decision a manager can make. Given the significant costs associated with hiring employees, doesn’t it make sense to put in the time and effort early in the process to ensure you’ve got the right person for the job? Consider these potential consequences of poor hiring:
1. Personal and professional conflict among new hires and existing employees
When someone isn’t right for the job, the workplace becomes vulnerable to increased stress among parties who need to be able to communicate effectively. Team members can sense right away when someone isn’t a good fit, and they are often the ones who must pick up the slack. This scenario can breed resentment and disagreement, possibly dooming a project to failure.
2. Earning a reputation for inconsistent hiring practices
The importance of establishing clear and reliable hiring criteria cannot be stressed enough. It’s unacceptable and unprofessional for anyone to be hired based on a gut feeling that the individual will do a good job. One of the best ways for a candidate to demonstrate his or her capabilities is to go through a behavioural-based interview, which allows managers to match the skills they are looking for with proven performance.
3. Employee turnover
No one wins with a bad hiring decision. Employers are frustrated by subpar performance and chances are good that the new guy is well aware that he’s not the right fit. When that happens, is it any wonder that bad hires don’t stick around for long, whether it’s a result of quitting or being fired? Of course, that means the business has to incur the hiring costs all over again. That’s neither a practice worth repeating nor a reputation worth having.
In a challenging economic climate, many people find themselves looking for work. If your company is in the hiring mode, this can mean an abundance of applicants for vacancies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment turnover reached a total of almost 50 million from June 2011 to June 2012, including voluntary separations, layoffs and firings.
So what can be done to ensure the right person is hired? Clearly, there’s no foolproof method, but there are certainly ways to improve hiring practices and avoid repeating past mistakes:
1. Know which competencies are required for success
What does your ideal candidate need to excel in the position? The first step in seeking the most qualified candidate is to be crystal clear on the skills required for the job.
2. The experience you see on paper is not enough
Not only does a potential team member need to have the appropriate experience and background, he or she also must have the right motivation. What is driving the candidate to want a spot on your team? What are his or her professional goals and do they fit with your vision for the company? In order to better understand an applicant, design interview questions that help reveal the motivations at the root of past and predicted workplace behaviour.
3. Don’t overlook whether the applicant dresses professional or not
An applicant with poor personal appearance may not care as much about performing well as someone who has taken the time and energy to look the part. When it comes to hiring, first impressions do matter. Even though an increasing number of companies have casual dress codes, when it comes to interviews, dressing down is rarely acceptable.
4. Take note of how applicants discuss their past jobs and employers
If an applicant bad-mouths former bosses, co-workers and jobs during an interview, do what you can to redirect the conversation. However, if the candidate continues to present former colleagues in a negative light, it’s time to end the interview. Candidates who willingly boast about past conflicts are not the ones you want on your team.
5. Don’t abandon new hires once they’re on the payroll
Too many companies bring on a new hire and then adopt a “sink or swim” method that more often than not leaves the employee in over his head. Do everything within your power to help a new hire become a contributing member of your team; offer feedback, support and expertise early and often.
Making the right hiring decision doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The time you take to prepare the best interview questions, thoroughly review an individual’s qualifications and have a clear understanding of the position you want to fill will more than make up for any time you could lose by bringing on the wrong person for the job.
Jessica Edmondson works for Bisk Education, a division in the University Alliance, which collaborates with educational organizations to develop online education programs. Some of their partners include Florida Tech, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco. Currently, her work focuses on the online Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree now being offered through the New England College.