Streetwise: Finding High Quality Staff

July 10, 2021

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

Every organization wants to hire quality people. High quality employees are those who truly make a difference to your business. The ones who can raise the bar and clearly separate you from the competition. But they’re hard to find, mostly because these people are usually already employed.

There is good news, though. Your competitors are in the same boat. The better news is that you can do something about it and get a leg up on the competition.

The key lies in spending the time needed to prepare for a hire before you even start collecting resumes. Before you start looking for the perfect candidate, you have to take a step back to define what the perfect candidate looks like.

The first challenge to hiring a quality staff person actually has nothing to do with the person.

It is defining what you need from the role. Don’t think about the person in it or the person leaving it. Think about the role itself and ask yourself what this role needs to accomplish for the good of the company.

Each role will have a different definition of success, so each role needs to be individually defined. You have to take the time to clearly state what you expect from that role. Because you can’t hire the right person for a role if you don’t know what that role is supposed to do.

You must define the role first!

Then it becomes much easier to see if someone is a good fit. There are many facets to any role and some of them may be hard to state explicitly. However, you must take the time to define the essential requirements, or Key Accountabilities. A detailed job description, or what we call a Job Defined Agreement, sets out the Key Accountabilities in black and white. This way employees know what is expected of them, no ifs, ands, or buts. This definition of who and what you need leads to the next challenge. A consistent hiring process.

Once you’ve clearly defined the role, you need to follow a set hiring process that will help you match candidates to that role.

You need to reexamine your current process to make sure it is helping you make great hires every time. There’s no one right hiring process to follow, but you need to make sure your process does two things.

First, it needs to force you to be objective. Often managers get excited by a candidate and may overlook some of their potential flaws. Optimism is a great trait to have, but in the hiring process you should focus on the negative. No more rose-colored glasses. Try to find every possible red flag. If those flags still aren’t deal-breakers, you can continue on with the candidate.

Second, it needs to force you to slow down. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: hire slow, fire fast. Take the time you need to truly vet each candidate before making a hiring decision. Don’t let circumstances rush you, even when you’re being pressured from all sides. It is more important to get the right person in the seat than it is to fill it quickly. The more effort you put into the front end of the process (resumes, reference checks, behavioral assessments, interviews, etc.), the more likely you are to hire the right person the first time.

Once you’ve perfected your hiring process, you need to get everyone in the company following it. No excuses. No exceptions.

People are a company’s greatest asset.

Without great employees, there is no business. Don’t allow this critical aspect of growing the business to become a last minute exercise where decisions are based on just getting someone in the door versus taking the time to create an intentional approach to getting the right people in the right seats.

As a part of the leader’s profit plan, he/she should be anticipating hiring needs at least 12 – 18 months into the future. A company with a strategic growth plan in place will be able to identify the skills and experience it needs on board to get where it wants to go. The company will have aggressively created a salary plan that ensures it will be able to afford the talent it requires.

As a leader you need ABR: Always Be Recruiting. You should maintain a stable of contacts that you could potentially call upon when needed to fill a seat at your company. This way you’ll never be starting completely from scratch. Of course, they’ll still have to go through the full hiring process, just like everyone else. But at least you’ll have a list of candidates to start with as opposed to starting from nothing.

But the hiring process is just one aspect of a comprehensive human resources program.

Recruiting, hiring, training, developing, performance management, and firing are all critical processes. And without a full and complete program, just hiring exceptional people doesn’t ensure they will be productive or that they will stay. They also need to be continually engaged and challenged once they arrive.

People want to grow and improve in their roles, especially high quality employees. So give them the chance to do just that. Make sure your managers are having consistent growth conversations with their employees. They need to understand how each individual wants to grow and then help them reach those goals.

They should also be having regular feedback conversations with their employees. Meeting on a weekly, or monthly, basis to make sure the employee is still moving in the right direction and to answer any questions they might have. Managers should be providing consistent support and coaching in these meetings. How can they help the employee perform at their best?

Hiring quality staff is tough, but not impossible.

Once you have your full HR system in place and you’ve become an employer of choice, high quality team members will start seeking you out. Everyone wants to work somewhere that they are valued and appreciated.

But, even when candidates are rolling in the door, you have to follow the same process. Make sure you know exactly what role you’re hiring for and what the expectations of that role are. Then, take your time and be objective. Remember, the more effort you put in during the hiring process, the higher your hiring success rate will be. Don’t sacrifice quality for speed.