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Effective Management Starts With Making The Right Hiring Decision

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.

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9 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , , , | October 16, 2012 by |

9 Comments on

Effective Management Starts With Making The Right Hiring Decision

  1. On October 16th, 2012 at 6:59 PM blakecavignac said:

    Agreed! The success of a leader and their company is dependent on their people.

    Building my first startup, I have learned the hard way of bringing people onto our team who were not the best fit. Learning from my failures, I recognized the importance of many of the principles you detailed above, specifically "The experience you see on paper is not enough".

    Although it is important to have the required skills and expertise, I have come to realize that one's will and drive to succeed is most important.

  2. On October 17th, 2012 at 7:44 AM Jon Mertz said:

    Some great points. Tone versus appearance is an important distinction. Whether it is talking about past experiences or future goals, tone of responses is vital as well as eye contact. Is there positive energy in the responses and engagement?

    Thanks for your perspective. Jon

  3. On October 17th, 2012 at 8:36 AM Terry D. Everson said:

    To support your premise, I believe you can only create an environment where peoples' self motivation can be realized. If you hire a "pet rock", good luck. Sadly we hire for skills, knowledge, and abilities, but we invariably terminate because of traits, characteritics, and what I refer to as conmpetencies. David McClelland's groundbreaking work laid the foundation for the "strengths" movement. Check it out. In sum, Herb Brooks said it best. As the coach for the US Olympic Hockey team in 1980, the Miracle on Ice boys, he was asked how he "motivated college players to beat the best hockey team in the wolrd, the Russians. Herb's respond was profound: My job isn't to put it into them; my job is to get it out of them!

  4. On October 17th, 2012 at 11:51 AM Don Simkovich said:

    How often do companies rely on #2 — what's on paper? Also, my son got turned down for a position he wanted (he's a recent grad). Should he ask for feedback or not on his interview? He received a generic thank you but no thank you letter.

  5. On October 17th, 2012 at 12:20 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Don,

    I think most organizations still rely on what's on the paper – at least for the initial stages of selecting candidates. One only has to Google the number of articles/services offering help to job hunters on how ensure their resumes have the right "keywords" to pass current software programs that are often used to sift through all the applications.

    As for your second question, the first thing we have to recognize is that employers are not obligated to give feedback to prospective candidates for why they didn't get the job. After all, such conversations can not only lead to a candidate complaining about how they do have what the organization is looking for or worse, it might open the organization to lawsuits.

    If your son wants to get feedback from employers, it shouldn't focus on why he didn't get the job. Instead, what your son should ask for is for feedback on how he might improve his interview skills or other gaps he might be lacking that he could work on. He should ask for a specific number (say 2-3 things he could work on) to make this as easy for the person to answer because he's telling them exactly what he needs from them.

    Of course, as I mentioned above, employers don't need to tell you more than 'sorry, but no thanks', so he shouldn't expect this would automatically give him an answer. After all, these people do have work that doesn't include going through their notes to answer each candidate's query about what they need to work on.

    However, it will help him build the right perspective of focusing less on why he didn't get a job and more on how he can continue to develop himself so he can find the right organization where he'll be a good fit.

  6. On October 17th, 2012 at 12:20 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Jon for your comment. Glad you enjoyed this guest piece.

  7. On October 17th, 2012 at 12:58 PM Alan Allard said:

    Excellent points. I would add that Peter Drucker pointed out the dismal track record of executives hiring record…less than 35% success in hiring the right person for the right job.

    Validated behavioral assessments provide information that cannot be obtained any other way. For more on this: http://www.hr-management3-0.com/2012/09/scientifi

  8. On October 19th, 2012 at 11:39 AM Kerry Johnston said:

    Excellent article!
    Using pre-hire assessments can minimize some of the risk, however it still comes down to HR and the Manager responsible for the hire doing their job effectively.

  9. On October 24th, 2012 at 9:43 AM Your City Office said:

    Excellent points.
    Great people make great companies. It's surprising companies at the moment don't invest more into the hiring and recruitment process!

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