Get Your 2015 Hiring In Order – 5 Quick Tips to Get It Moving

2015 cubesJanuary, 2015, where plans are made and enacted for the coming year and where what you do now will have a solid impact on what happens later.

It is also the time to really plan what is going to happen with your staffing. What new projects will need to see increases? Can you see any staff looking to leave? Any changes that will see fluctuations in numbers? All of these need to be considered now to make sure you and your business are geared up and ready to face the year.

So what are the best tips to get these plans happening?

  1. Nail down your culture – Make sure you know exactly what makes your current employees get out of bed and come into work every day, what keeps them with you, what makes them happy, what engages them to the work they do and what you need to do to foster this. If you have no idea what your culture is, get it sorted now. You cannot hire without knowing exactly what makes your people great employees
  2. Get the basics in place – Do you know what is a killer job description? Know where to find the best candidates? Got your interviews structured nicely? Know the ins and outs of background checking? These are the basics that can mean the difference between success and failure.
  3. Start engagement now – this is something not a lot of businesses really understand. Employee engagement starts even before they are hired. Business leaders need to get out a bit more to attract the right people. Use social media, networking, whatever to create a sense of you as a leader being highly approachable and dedicated. Additionally, when you are starting the hiring process, think engagement from the first step. Present a clear picture of what your business is all about, get your other employees involved and get that message out where you can. If you create a great impression of your organisation before you go to hire, you may not even need to advertise the role as you be an attractive proposition for any potential candidates.
  4. Get to know who is about – recruiters call it ‘talent mapping’, but we’ll just call it good planning. Knowing who is in the marketplace, where potential candidates could come from and even initiating conversations prior to a role becoming live is a brilliant way to get the jump on the market. It will increase significant your ability to locate and secure great new employees and place you in a great position to lose as little time possible when filling your next live role.
  5. Profile the best candidate – this is the picture of who would be the perfect addition to your business. This picture isn’t the technical skills they have, but the behaviours, attributes, persona – the soft skills – the candidate will have to be a brilliant employee. Note who are your best workers, and those who show high levels of engagement and use them to create this picture. Put it together now so that when the time comes, it is an easy reference to base selections on.

Finally:

Get the plan in place and actioned – OK, so we know we are going to increase staff numbers this year, we can see the little bits to make it happen, so now is the time to be putting the plan together.  You are at a great time of the year to put some serious thought into what you are going to do this year to hire with a high level of success. Take these points and give your hiring policy some purpose and structure to really propel it into 2015.

Have a great (hiring) year.

 

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Humanise Hiring – People Need Love Too

happy employeeIf we are going to be serious – I mean REALLY serious in building a human, highly engaged hiring system, we have to acknowledge a few basics that form the core of how we will hire.

Last time I looked at humanising hiring, it was to curtail a reliance on technology in the sourcing and selecting of potential candidates. In this chapter, I want to explore how we as humans get along and why it is vital to understand human interaction as a basis for any hiring process and how to humanise it.

To be clear, the point I want to make is this: a hiring process with full human interaction is a perfect way to identify and hire top candidates.

Inherently, humans need to feel they are appreciated, accepted, loved or admired. There is a sense of achievement that we want to constantly have and always seek out and it is this need that drives a lot of us to push ourselves both in work and outside. Do you think the guy that punishes himself for 2 hours in a 40km marathon does it purely for the exercise? Or the musician who travels up and down the coast for gigs does it purely for the driving? No they do it for the achievement, the admiration and the sense of purpose.

Looking for work can be one of the most challenging and stressful times for any person to go through (according to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, it sits above moving house) and so, by virtue of this alone, hiring managers, HR, recruiters or anyone responsible for sourcing potential candidates needs to be a little more aware of what they are dealing with. So that’s one way to look at it…

…another is common to the psychology of human interactions. In it’s basic terms, a level of interaction that is personal, face-to-face and connecting is the best way to create feelings of connection and comfort as well as a commodity that no other interaction can create: trust.

Trust is big. Trust gives you significant credibility and unquestioned goodwill. It is an element of business that significantly overrides most other intangible assets and when it comes to hiring is probably the most powerful thing a hirer can possess. You will not find trust at the end of an email, follow, Inmail or retweet. It can only be achieved in person. For all the technology, arms-length interaction and unprecedented access to a company’s personnel, nothing beats the old school.

Humanise, Man…

Before looking at the how we must first think of what we are doing. In any conversation I have had with hiring managers or recruiters about how to humanise it, the first thing I say is this: think of what happened when you were looking for your first role, or your last role. How were you feeling, what emotions were being played out, how did you feel during the actual hiring process, how nervous, scared, worried, elated were you? Use this, then, to determine how you will approach your candidates.

Keep in full mind that the way we were treated when we were on the other side of the hiring process should help us in the way we treat our candidates.

Hello? Is Anyone There?

Nothing irritates nor confuses more than submitting an application only for nothing to be heard or a phone message never returned. It’s as if the effort to apply, to address criteria and to fashion a response particular to the requirements of the role have disappeared into the ether.

The way we can keep candidates informed on how their application is being processes will be a clearly definable way to know whether your hiring process is healthy or not. Regardless of the outcome of their application, communication allows the candidate to know exactly where they stand and allows them to adjust accordingly.

Everything Old Should Be New

The use of more and more impersonal means to communicate is at the very heart of why there is at times a disjoint between those hiring and those applying. Communication channels are often held at arms length, indicative of a certain type of fear or discomfort in having the channels opened to more personal conversation. The recruitment industry has labelled this simply as ‘Phone Fear’ and it is a net result of the plethora of ways communication can happen without physically speaking to the recipient.

In all that, it should be noted the old methods of face-to-face conversation and phone calls yield far better results. Astonishing, I know. The more personal the contact, the more involved directly with candidates the employer / recruiter, the more substantially qualified the decision to hire will be. When it comes to identifying the candidate’s cultural fit, or understanding how they will communicate to the team or customer, or even just to get that ‘gut feel’ about them, the more personally focused it is, the better the result. In other words, bringing in the human communication channel will also bring in the results.

Get Your Feet Wet

OK, so you have the communications and the more humane contact sorted. Great! Keep it up.

Thing is, unless you dive in feet first and actually meet the candidate who could be your next employee, you are not getting the full deal…and neither is the candidate. Phone communication is fine, but it is simply lazy to solely rely on it. Nothing provides a greater indication on the suitability of a candidate than meeting them face-to-face (or via Skype / video conferencing if geographical boundaries are an issue). So doing it is paramount in creating a more human-focused hire for two big reasons:

  • Proper decisions cannot be genuinely made without physically viewing the candidate. They just can’t. How are you going to get an idea on how they will fit your culture? Or communicate with your team or customers? Or how will you get that ‘gut feel’ that many an informed decision are based on? You can’t until you lay eyes on this candidate. Sadly, I know of recruitment firms who do not interview candidates for roles, almost instantly referring them on to the employer. I’ve seen it first hand and it gives me the irrits (as my 11 year old son would say). Suitability cannot be assessed by a phone call only, and I don’t care how good a phone interviewer you are.
  • Interviews, indeed the whole hiring process, is a two-way street. Not only are you assessing a candidate’s suitability, so too is the candidate assessing your suitability as an employer. Meeting them will give clear ideas on how they are to you and you are to them. In other words, you are providing solid information to the candidate to base their decision on. It’s empowering, it’s comforting and it allows the candidate to feel a real sense of being acknowledged as a real option for employment. This is solid human hiring.
  • Get the critical elements of your business involved. What do I mean by ‘critical’? It’s the people that are the decision makers firstly, but also those who will interact day-to-day with the candidate. Most times, they are incredibly important to gauge a potential employees fit into that team.

Friendly – and Human – Tech

Sure, I gave tech a big old slap in the face last time, but I am not the Luddite, tech-will-ruin-our-lives kind of guy. In hiring it must be used sparingly, but where it can be used to enhance the hiring process, it should be embraced. Social Media is a good way to keep the hiring channels open and interactive. Picture having a Twitter account that can be your channel for sourcing great talent or indeed answering questions about what it’s like to work in your company. Starbucks did exactly that as described in this article in Smart Company from a couple of years back. Similarly, there is coming into the market a suite of collaboration apps and online networking tools that allow interaction with a a array of people from the phone or PC. In fact, your online realm is just as busy as the brinks-and-mortar one and just as vital in ensuring engagement. As a means of gaining traction with potential candiates, creating the buzz of attraction and ensuring your presence in both worlds is maintained, it is a solid investment. However it only works if both worlds work in unison and tech does not fully take over the hiring process.

Remember I mentioned the biggest benefit in humanising your hiring? It’s trust. By keeping this in touch with the people you are looking at as potential employees, you are creating something that is often not thought of as important in your hiring structure:

Brand Power

Let’s get one thing sorted: true candidate management creates something that cannot be undervalued – engagement. You engage a candidate to your hiring process, you engage them to your business. Remember, candidates are customers, and thus part of your branding strategy. Sort out how you work closely with your candidates and how it intermingles with your branding, and you will realise that a practice of relationship building at the start will pay dividends later.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, it creates something that a lot of companies want, but few claim to really have: “Attractables“. What are attractables? Simply, they what you company does internally and externally that give potential candidates / employees a sense of who you are, what you stand for and what you offer that make you an attractive employment prospect.

In marketing, much is made of having people rave about your product or service; tapping into motivations behind consumer behaviour and how they can be geared towards your business is something businesses spend thousands and thousands of dollars on. What gets me is that for all this money, if you cannot attract the right people, treat them brilliantly and give them a sense of engagement within your business, the greatest potential ravers of your product of service – your people – are going to be disinclined to do so. You attract great people via the same way you attract your customers…you keep your employees via the same methods you keep your customers.

Hiring is marketing…and human hiring is the single greatest marketing plan your business can implement.

Love Is All You Need

The bottom line to all this is simple: treat candidates as humans, put a bit of old-school contact in your hiring process and understand that this is the sure-fire way to build engagement from the very moment your role is launched in the market. An engaged workforce is now seen as the single-most important element for productivity gains and increased revenue generation…and about time too. Human Hiring allows for greater communication, openness and enhanced employee satisfaction from day one. For it is the human aspects of a business that are its most tangible and beneficial asset and it is the way a business incorporates its human side in their hiring plans that ensures these assets are afforded the best and most obvious vision of your business from the first point of contact.

 

 

Warm Bodies – The ‘Anyone Will Do’ Syndrome in Hiring

Hire FireI’ve spoken quite a bit before about ‘Panic Hiring’ in a broad sense of how it happens and why it is bad business sense. Its incidence is so common, and the way it almost always leads to a bad hire warrant further and deeper investigation.

For any small business or micro businesses doing their first hire, the cost in a resulting bad hire from a panic-based process is steep. As a quick guide, a study from Right Management (part of the Manpower Group) found that bad hires can cost any business a minimum of 30% to more than 5 times the annual salary, depending on the role, with an average of twice times this amount. When put up against a micro or small business, we are talking costs that would render a business insolvent, purely on the basis of one bad hire. For a larger business, this is a major hit that can be ill-afforded

The thing to remember is that bad hiring decisions are not intentionally made. Nor are they inevitable. The simple thing is they are made by carelessness;  by not putting enough thought to the overall holistic approach to hiring. Predominately decisions are made far too quickly and without proper checks and balances to make it a good decision.

Far too often, though, it is a case of ‘Anyone Will Do’.

Anyone Will Do is the simplest form of hiring. It is taking the first person that fits the skills of the role, is available straight away and seems to be suitable for the role. They are a ‘warm body’; there, seemingly ready to go and available.

It is also the laziest form of hiring.

When a new employee is hired under the  ‘Anyone Will Do’, they will start, often well, but it isn’t too long before the signs suggest this decision is going to backfire. Problems arise with performance, attitude and competence. Then issues around fit appear:  Workplace morale falls. Staff turnover increases. Customers start to abandon your business. Things start to go ‘missing’. Complaints increase.

They are the sign of a bad hire and the chances of this happening under the Syndrome are greatly increased. It happens because the quality checks were discarded in favour of a quick turnaround – checks that would pick up on issues that would question a candidate’s suitability.

If any person can identify this as occurring in their business, the question needs to be asked how was the hiring done.

Hiring needs attention. It needs time. It needs care.

However, let’s be honest here, business owners, decision makers and hiring managers – in fact anyone responsible for hiring – are flat-out busy. The incidence of new work, a leaving staff member or growth often bring that sense of panic and uncertainty to hiring, trying to ensure gaps are filled quickly with as little downtime as possible. A quick hire is seemingly best and the most appropriate action that results in as little downtime as possible.

It is this combination of busyness and panic that lead to the Anyone Will Do Syndrome.

So how are we, in the times when we are incredibly busy, avoiding a fall into this trap?

It’s hard. Very hard. I won’t beat around the bush. You have to think about this: the care you put into hiring this time will mean the difference between getting a great candidate and having to repeat the process again, and again and again and…….

It is the way a business hires; the process it chooses, that determines the success of the candidate chosen. The first candidate that comes across the desk of the hirer may indeed be the best fitting candidate, but only through rigorous checking, interviews and verifying skills, experience and background will the suitability of the candidate be confirmed.

The thing is, you must focus on what is needed to make a hiring process workable and accountable. Why? Not only do you and your business require a success when hiring, your customers demand that the people you have working for you are in tune with the way your business runs and do not come across as mere Band-Aid solutions.

Remember, bad hires are not solely an internal issue, they are an outward branding one. To avoid these is to avoid external damage to your business.

The final point here is to lay out the three things all business must do to  avoid a bad hire and the antidote to the ‘Anyone Will Do Syndrome’. They are investing in:

  • Enough time to make informed decisions;
  • Quality processes that ensure all information is at hand; and
  • Planning to cover all bases and proper checks.

Add these to any hiring situation your business is placed in, and your hiring health is assured.

 

 

 

 

How Do You Hire On Fit…When Surrounded By Panic? 6 Tips to Consider

Panic buttonSlowly, ever so slowly, the realisation is surfacing amongst some businesses that hiring with fit in mind – character, attributes, behaviours that fit the overall culture of the organisation – is paramount in ensuring not only a successful hire, but a solidly engaged employee from day one.

Yet, other businesses still fall for a panic-induced hire – overlooking the fit of a candidate for a role and instead opting for an immediate hit of skills to suffice an immediate need, without realising (or caring about) the longer-term issues that could arise. It’s like a craving for chocolate – the immediate hit of yumminess is bliss…yet the later effects of calories, weight or sugar, doesn’t enter the equation when the craving hits.

So within this, we have an impasse: on one hand, the realisation of the importance of fit is there, but there is still the overriding sense of panic and the quick fix that comes as a result of it.

So how do we do it? How, amongst the panic and stress of a vacant seat in the office or station on the floor, do we put care into the hiring process and incorporate fit into candidate requirements?

It’s not easy.

However, put these ideas in place, and it will be a lot easier (and far more successful):

1. Know Your Culture

Do you know what makes your team click? Have you properly defined how your employees are engaged? Do you know the importance of an engaged workplace? What are the behaviours, traits or characteristics that make your team cohesive? If you can’t answer these, you are not going to be able to hire against it. Not at all.

2. Time is Key

Seemingly the antithesis of panic, the fact that time creates great outcomes should not be discounted. Give yourself time to plan, source and select with care. Whilst the sense of overriding pressure to find someone will be very strong, the importance of getting it right first time cannot be undervalued.

Remember this – get it wrong, you will be doing it again…and again. The costs just in that repetitive process will be high, even before time drains will kick in

3. Plan Plan Plan

Along with allowing time to hire right comes the need to plan accordingly and to do so even before a hiring need arises. A good decision is based on proper accumulation of information about a candidate to qualify this decision. This information will only be properly attained by ensuring all step of a hiring process are carried through properly, and these steps are part of an overall hiring plan. The plan should be an integral part of the overall business plan, ready to be referred to the moment the needs arise.

4. Source Candidates Before You Need Them

Planning also caters to the times when a need to fill a role is not immediate. Using the time to identify potential candidates that may be either in the market and identifiable via social media or internal referral systems. Just like recruitment agencies have databases of potential candidates, so too can employers do the same to ensure there is a ready-made stream of candidates there who are possible ready to go when the new hiring need drops on them.

5. Get the Basics Right

The secret to any good hire is making sure the basics are covered. If you find yourself in an unplanned hiring process, at the very least get these essential points covered:

  • Define the role: what is the role that is to be filled, how it fits into the overall business and growth plans and it’s function
  • Define the Person: the skills needed and what behaviours / characteristics / cultural elements must be there. Model on a top employee if stuck
  • Define the Strategy: how you will find that person to fill the role

6. Don’t PANIC!

Yes I know it’s hard, but if you find that this gap in your workforce is giving you nightmares, step back. You are going to make a very bad hire if you go in there without a clear head and open eyes. It is simply not going to work. Think of how this is going to affect your business if you get it horribly wrong. Quality is driven by care and attention…not by panic.

 

Hiring Wisely – A Study of the Abbott Government

Abbott pic

The Abbott Liberal Government is facing a storm of criticism over what it said pre-election and what it is saying now. There have been many, many discussions about this and I’m not about to enter into a debate into if they lied or broke promises.In a hiring sense, though, it is a fascinating parallel to how getting it right is vital. If we consider that the pre-election is equivalent to the hiring process, with the election itself being the final decision on which candidate to choose, we can draw some interesting conclusions:

  1. Interviews are a  great way to find out information about candidates, but if you rely on it solely, the candidate can lie their pants off, and you as the hirer will be none the wiser.
  2. If you fail to conduct any background / reference checks, you will not be able to qualify those statements made in the interview.
  3. If you fail to ask the right questions in the interview, you will get the wrong information to base a decision on.
  4. Those with a dispensation to lie will often suck in the inexperienced interviewer, as they will say things that they will want to hear…not what they need to hear.
  5. A candidate that makes some grand promises about how they will improve the business, without understanding the nature of the business they are looking to join, will almost certainly rescind on those promises, or at the very least put off staff trying to implement them
  6. If you allow a candidate to be hired based on one interview, don’t be surprised if this candidate ends up being the exact opposite of what you were wanting.
  7. And don’t surprised if that happens almost immediately.
  8. It may be wise to gain an understanding how the candidate will back up their claims. Sometimes, testing (psychometric / skills-based) may be needed to quantify statements.
  9. Bad hiring decisions are a major cost impediment (just go through some of my past articles to garner exact costs), so getting it wrong can mean a serious hit to the finances, with staff, productivity and customers potentially suffering as a result.
  10. Make sure you have gathered every possible information available about the candidate BEFORE you make a decision. Even just one piece of missing or unverified detail can prove vital in the wash-up.
  11. Bottom line: put together a clearly defined, quantifiable, planned hiring systems to avoid these bad hires, and to allow the right information to be given and verified.This is the only way a decision can be made.

To fully complete the analogy, did the Australian people make a decision based on all the verified information available?

2014 – The HR and Hiring Trends That Could Happen

This very quick post will attempt to highlight what 2014 may have in store for HR and recruitment…or at the very least what ideally should happen:

  • As mentioned before, HR needs to regain its rightful place in the boardrooms and decision-points of business. In 2014, I would like to see some voices being made to be heard about the power and necessity of HR. There are some encouraging signs, and it is a real possibility that a move to a more people-focused business could be initiated.
  • The Recruitment Industry needs to resolve to be a little more candidate-friendly. However, this will happen after Applicant Tracking Systems become seen as an inhibitor. There will be an increase of bad hires made on the back of ATS’s and I would hope the foundations of a more careful approach to sourcing be instigated.
  • That said, greater use of technology in the hiring process will come more and more widespread. This will particularly become vital in locating talent as the more traditional job boards fall in use due to their failure to properly adapt.
  • There will be more of a push-back on recruiters who are too ‘sales-y’, or display cowboy approaches. The relationship models, those that desire to understand fully how their client operates and seeks to grow with them, will overtake the traditional sales approach and the cold, unsolicited call will become a bad memory.
  • The humanisation of the hiring process is gathering momentum. 2014 must see a shift to greater communication, open processes and clearer hiring plans
  • Speaking of plans, businesses will finally realise that to hire right, one must plan right. It will be the year of the plan.
  • Finally, grassroots movements around HR and hiring will push back on established (and time-wasting / cumbersome) policies and integrate more positive approaches to how HR and hiring are done.

Very quick, very wishful thinking, but very much identifying where change and/or realignment of the way things are currently done is needed.

Will it happen? Yes, I believe it will. Will it take 2014 for it to do so? That is for the next 11 months to see.

Top 10 Hiring Mistakes – #3 – Position Description Failures

At the time when you want to put your role to market, your aim is to attract the best candidates, right? Getting something simple like the wording of the position description could be the difference by being handed several great candidates, or showered in dross.

In my 15 years of recruitment I have seen every type of position description – from the 5 brief lines one to the 10 page thesis. I’ve seen ones that are three quarters  of fluff about the company, and only a tiny description of the role, and ones that mention nothing about the company culture and environment. I have also seen ones that list ever technical skill needed but leave out essential behaviours and culture requirements; and vice versa.

The point of the position description that seems to be lost to many is that this is a tool to attract,  not bore. Too many position descriptions fail at the attraction of top candidates and seem to be more confusing than informative, meaning that candidates will either apply out of pure curiosity, or ignore. Position descriptions, and subsequent advertisements, that attract dozens, or even hundreds of candidates, may seem in first light to be successful, but the dross you will have to go through to find that needle in the haystack will nullify any gains perceived. The time and cost associated with rifling through a pile of resumes that miss the mark will be telling and for any business it is a cost that can be ill-afforded.

Yet time and time again, it is the way the position description is designed and worded that consistently lets businesses down. Wording that is too ambiguous or broad, that doesn’t describe core tasks or technologies used will only succeed in attracting the wrong sort of candidate. Ones that fail to paint a clear picture of the company and what it stands for might as well be blank, as will the ones that don’t give a potential candidate a clear idea what impact the role will have.  Finally, a poorly designed position description will give candidates no real idea what to expect in the role.The likelihood of them being interested falls, and on top of that, if they were to go through the process on the basis of a poor PD, the chances of them getting a surprise when they get the job and start (remember, surprises are not the best thing to a new employee) will be high.

Put simply, position descriptions that fail to attract the right candidates are, of course, failures.

Then there is the fact that a lot of businesses use the same job description, word for word, for the same role every time that role is needed. By doing this, you might as well be disregarding the changes in the role over the months / years, any new technologies, practices, policies or procedures that would impact on the role today as opposed to last year and basically be using a document that is out of date. Any business knows, using a document or procedure or similar that is out of date is poor business practice. It also speaks loudly on the vitality of the business.

However, the one thing that a lot of businesses overlook when it comes to position descriptions is this: your PD is your entry to the wider candidate and business market to advertise your role. It is a branding tool. Businesses that do not understand that (and there are plenty) will blunder into the market with a document that will not showcase their business in any good light – and their brand will take a hit. So much so that as an attraction tool for the best talent in the market, it will sink like a stone.

So what makes a good position description? In very simple terms they are:

  • The ones that have thought about what they are looking for in the best candidate for the role.
  • They have measurables that are defined in such a way as to cover all possible eventualities
  • And then keep it to a maximum of 2-3 pages.
  • How? By using a Metrics To Achievement table – the  role, the actions accompanying it, the end result and finally how this will be measured.
  • Keeping it current!

This goes a long way in pointing the position description towards attracting who you want to apply for your role, and removing the chances of being inundated with unsuitable applicants. When time and money are the biggest killers to any hiring process, this is a definite improvement.