The economy continues to climb business is booming. But it’s got executives everywhere scratching their heads.
There is a nearly universal pressure to find new talent. Whether it is the “Great Resignation” affecting the upper levels of organizations at an unprecedented rate or the Millennial shock and other trials affecting even entry-level positions, I’m almost certain you are struggling to hire right now.
But let’s be honest, the problems we are experiencing today with our hiring are only an exaggeration of the symptoms and underlying causes that have been there all along.
Most companies simply do not have a hiring process designed to secure top talent and sustain a culture of innovation and excellence. Beyond the momentary frustration and disruption caused by blank spots on your roster, a lack of intentionality in hiring is one of the fastest ways to lose your competitive edge as an organization.
That’s why one of the key differences between great companies and their average competitors is found in how they hire.
Are you hiring like a great company or setting yourself up for average?
- Is most of your hiring done as a reaction to an open role, leaving you constantly feeling behind the eight ball?
- Do strong new hires have cause drag or unwanted pull on the organization or their teams?
- Would you describe your hiring as a time-based event rather than an evergreen process?
- Do you have high turnover?
- Does it take a long time to get new hires up to speed?
- Do you have a “pick and stick” approach to hiring, finding someone, showing them what to do, and then tossing them in the deep end?
- Do you have constant interdepartmental confusion around hiring (and firing)?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the dysfunction in your hiring costs you far more than the frustration you are currently experiencing on the surface level.
The good news is, I’m going to show you how to solve each and every one of these problems, and I’m going to do it all with a single golf swing.
How’s your golf swing?
No, I’m not talking about your actual golf swing. I’m talking about your hiring golf swing.
When you’ve lined up in the tee box on the 18th hole, the pressure is on. You’re mentally and physically tired, but you have to make the shot. All you’ve got now are the fundamentals.
Hiring is the same way. I haven’t met too many executives (especially CEOs) who wake up excited to go try to hire the right people. Instead, hiring happens when we are tired and distracted. And just like that 18th drive, what makes or breaks your success for any extended period is hiring.
I know. I know. Every one of us wants to swing at our hiring like this.
We want to walk up, crush the ball, and get back to business.
But that only works in the movies. Watch anyone on the pro tour, and you’ll see an entirely different process.
So let’s use a great golf swing to create a great hiring process. A great swing has five steps, and each one represents a crucial step in your hiring process.
- The setup: Internal Structure
- The Backswing: External messaging.
- The Downswing: Sourcing great candidates.
- Point of Impact: The hiring process.
- The Follow-through: Onboarding and orientation.
Let’s take a look at each one so you can build a brilliant hiring process today!
#1 The setup: Internal Structure
You can’t just run-up to the ball and start swinging and expect any consistency in your success. You have to stop and get everything aligned before even beginning to swing.
The same is true in hiring. The Happy Gilmore shot of hiring is what I call the “warm-body approach.” We rush in, throw everything at it and then hire the first warm body we can find. What’s shocking about this is how common it is, given how poorly it works. It doesn’t work at all. Yet, it is “normal”, especially in entrepreneurial organizations.
That said, there is such a thing as too much setup and too much process. At some point, you have to start swinging.
So here are the four main elements you need to define before you even start to swing.
- The position in the org chart. You have to identify who the new hire will report to and who will report to her. Often new hires will quietly break our org chart if we aren’t paying attention. For instance. If you have one VP of Sales and hire another, are they co-equals, is the more senior in charge, or is the more talented in charge?
- The job description. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Job Descriptions myself. The last thing any of us wants to hear is, “That’s not my job!” However, they are irreplaceable in a great hiring process. A well-written job description will create enormous clarity for both the new hire and those taking part in the hiring process. A great job description will excite the right candidates and repel the wrong ones. Do your best to keep the job description as a tool for clarity AND NOT a tool for compliance and legal security.
- The KPIs. Every single job should have at least one key performance indicator (KPI). This is not just a metric. Metrics are numbers without significance. KPIs are metrics that matter. They provoke clarity and give everyone certainty about whether the candidate is living up to the role’s demands. KPIs, by definition, elevate some tasks and results as more important than others. They are also handy for measuring progress at the 30, 60, and 90-day reviews.
- The SLAs. This is the most likely of the four elements to be new to you, at least in a hiring context. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are the ground rules that govern the most important interactions and interdependencies within the organization. Who will the new hire need to work with our side of his direct chain of command? What meetings are necessary? What data must be shared? And what decisions must be made together?
#2 The Backswing: External messaging.
Long before you need to hire (make contact with the golf ball), you need to begin building a hiring brand (the backswing). This is where you create the energy required to drive the process forward effectively. This is more important than ever for a few reasons.
- Visibility: tools and resources like Glassdoor have dramatically increased the visibility of your organization’s inner workings. The proverbial cat is out of the bag, making it harder than ever to “churn and burn.”
- Competition: it’s a job candidate’s market. There is no shortage of opportunities. Unless you have no limit on what you can pay, you will have to compete on more than just pay and perks.
- Demand: Millennials are driving an increase in demand from employees of all generations to do work that matters for a company they can be proud of.
This reputation takes work. You may not trace any of it directly to the bottom line (except for some of the expenses), but I can promise you that if you are not all ready actively building a hiring brand, you are falling behind.
Here are the four things you can do to start building your hiring brand.
- Boost your online presence. If you don’t have a careers page on your website, add one today. List your open positions, but more importantly, share employee stories and praise and showcase the culture in the organization. This is also true for social media and review sites.
- Show up in your community. Be a visible force for good in your local community. Give back. Help those in need. While this is good for your brand, it’s even better for you and your current employees. This type of meaning-making is essential for attracting and retaining top talent sustainably.
- Current staff. Take care of your existing staff. If you remember nothing else, it is to take care of your people. Take care of them, and they will take care of you. They’ll happily do the extra work to cover holes in the org chart. They’ll recommend great candidates. And they’ll help to train them. Or, they’ll say, “That’s not my job,” they’ll bad mouth you to their friends, and they’ll discourage new employees before they’ve even started. You choose.
- Job postings. Please don’t write terrible job postings. Remember, you’re writing to a real human being. Imagine you want your best friend (or your grandma) to come and work with you. Sure, list the requirements, but also share what it’s like to work there and what success will look like for the individual. Write a job description with heart and clarity, and you’ll be glad you did!
#3 The Downswing: Sourcing great candidates.
Next is the downswing. This is the first visible action in the direction of a new hire, but we’re not pulling the trigger yet. That is the essential difference in great sourcing versus what most of us do.
Great sourcing is an evergreen, proactive process. It is in many ways the opposite of the reactive, instantaneous decision that likely represents your current hiring process. Let me crystalize the difference in 1 question:
If you received an email and resume from an outstanding high performer, who has heard such great things, she wants to come work for you, but you don’t have an open role for her. What would you do?
There are two opposite but equally incorrect responses. Some would hire her on the spot and hope it works out (maybe suddenly firing someone else to make space). Others would say, “Sorry, we don’t have anything right now.”
The correct response is to have a defined plan for nurturing interest until the proper position is open.
What we are talking about is sourcing, filling your funnel with great candidates. And you can’t wait until you need someone to begin filling your funnel. That will cause costly delays, overwork, and stress for your current employees, and it will increase the temptation to settle for the first warm body.
Here are four things you can do to improve your candidate sourcing dramatically:
- Interview internal candidates. Your first look to fill a role should almost always be internal. These are people who you know are good fits and high-performers. They are looking for career growth and could be precisely what you need. Don’t underestimate the value of your current team members. You should be actively developing them, but that is another topic for another time.
- Seek out ‘passive’ candidates. The best candidates aren’t looking for a job. They’re well employed. Your sourcing has to initiate conversations. It’s not enough to simply sit back and wait for people to find your job ad and apply. Sure, you’ll get plenty of applications, but they aren’t going to be from your dream candidates.
- ‘Nurture’ high-quality candidates. Like I mentioned earlier, you want to have a defined process for nurturing high-quality candidates even when you aren’t hiring. What can you do to interview them and cultivate the relationship so that they are ready to go the moment an opportunity opens up?
- Ask alumni. One of the most under-utilized sourcing pools is your alumni. Unlike your current employees, they actively engage in a network that is primarily outside of yours. They know you, your organization, and what it takes to succeed there. They may even be interested in coming back as well. I’ve had several employees return to my company after a time elsewhere. Once back, they were the most faithful and enthusiastic employees on my staff.
#4 Point of Impact: Interviewing.
By this point, if you’ve done your homework. You are more than halfway there even though you haven’t interviewed a single candidate yet. It is also at this point that the benefits of all that pre-work begin to accrue. Most notably, you’ll find you start the interviewing process with candidates of a much higher caliber than you did in the days of winging it.
But you can squander all that momentum if you try to wing the interview process. And that’s what most of us try to do. We either don’t have the time, don’t think it matters, or think a little too highly of our ability to “judge character.”
So, here are the four things you can do with your interviewing process to make the most of the momentum you’ve got at your back!
- Identify Your Must-Haves / Must-Dos (MHMDs). This should be a relatively simple step since you’ve already put together the job description. Pull it out, and as you review it, identify the top 5 skills (Must Haves) and attitudes or behaviors (Must Dos) that will make or break the hiring decision—settling on what is most important because it dials in the interviewing process to focus on those key issues.
- Never Interview Alone. When I first started hiring people for my team, I always did it alone. And since I had no idea what I was doing, that boiled down to whether I liked the person or not. It wasn’t my intention as much as it was a last-ditch effort to make a good decision. Once I discovered the ideal of panel interviews, the quality of our hiring went through the roof, and the amount of turnover we experienced fell dramatically.
- Behaviorally-Based Questions (BBQs). BBQs are another game-changer. Questions that start with “What would you do if…” tell you almost nothing about the candidate. Just about anyone can make up the correct answer for what they would do if some hypothetical challenge popped up. However, ask that same question, but start it with “Tell us about a time when you …” and all of a sudden, the picture gets a lot clearer.
- Role Play / Scenario Testing. Finally, don’t undervalue real-world testing. Have him pick up an incoming call, review a financial statement, write a piece of code, or sell a widget. Few things are as revealing as watching them in action. Imagine a coach selecting all of his players without ever seeing them on the field. It’s unimaginable in the world of sports, yet it is what we do every single day in business.
I get that this may sound like a lot. But I promise you it isn’t. By taking just a little bit of time to define these steps on the front end, you’ll find you spend less time and much less energy in interviews and get far better results.
#5 The Follow-through: Onboarding and orientation.
Congratulations! You made the hire. Now, it’s time to ensure you get the best return you can out of all that hard work. And the first step is to realize the hiring process isn’t over yet. You need to have a plan for onboarding your new employee.
I know; you’re probably thinking seriously, more process and more plans. But consider this, when it comes to behavior setting, the first day of work is the most important day for your employees. You need to both teach and show them what it’s like to work at your organization successfully. Don’t let your new employee show up for their first day, unsure where to go, what to do, or who will help them. Just think about the message that sends about what it means to work for you…
Instead, make a plan including these four elements and execute it well.
- Set 30, 60, & 90 Day Deliverables. You need to give clear, unambiguous, and quantifiable metrics that will be due. Then schedule an appointment in your calendar and the employee’s calendar to meet on those dates. Depending on the role, the meeting can be 5 minutes to an hour or more. You decide. What is most important is that the expectations are set, and the review is held.
- Set 30, 60, & 90 Day Learning Objectives. What does your new employee need to know to do her job exceptionally well? What does she need to know about other’s roles or about the company or its competition? What qualifications or certifications are needed? Write these out and review them in your 30, 60 & 90 days review meetings.
- Explain company processes. Take the time to familiarize your new employee with the necessary processes for completing his job and those processes that exist company-wide. It is human nature to dislike moving into uncertainty and ambiguity. Identifying these critical processes for your employee will help him perform the necessary functions and enjoy a sense of confidence from day one.
- Intentionally introduce them to others. One of the most important factors in job satisfaction and employee retention is not the “what” of the job but the “who.” Employees are more likely to enjoy a job where they have a close friend. It’s also true that employees don’t leave companies; they leave bosses. Take the initiative to help your employee feel welcomed and connected to the other people in the company.
Together these elements will allow you to create an onboarding process with clear (even rigorous) goals and provide the appropriate context and support to allow your new employee to exceed your expectations.
I know that early in my hiring career, I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of having to find additional help and key talent. That feeling only worsened as the company grew and we needed to find more and more employees for more and more roles.
At that time, an article like this would have been quite overwhelming. If that’s how you feel, I have good news.
You don’t need to do this. Not all of it, at least. To start making some huge improvements, you don’t even need to do most of it. So rather than rushing through every point and trying to get it all done, I’d encourage you to focus your energy on knocking just two or three of these practices out over the next two months. Here’s how.
- Take a quick inventory of your current process. Ask yourself what 2-3 areas need the most work.
- Have an initial meeting with your key leaders (or your hiring team if you have one) and create a delegated plan to make the needed changes.
- Set (and hold) a 60-day review meeting to ensure follow-through and implementation. And make sure to get it in the calendar now before the busyness of business blows you back to the way you’ve always done it.
If you’d like help with your hiring process and would like someone to come alongside and guide you each step of the way, then check out our directory and find a Scale Architect near you. You can also schedule a 15-minute fit meeting, and we’ll help you find the right Scale Architect to help scale your hiring process to the next level!