Keeping and growing your best employees should be the top priority of any business. Constantly hiring great new talent comes in as a close second. Actually executing well on these priorities though is a very difficult task, as according to the Executive Board, most hiring managers think one in five hires was a bad hire.
Moral of the story? If you think you’re awful at hiring, chances are you are in the same boat as everyone else. Much like trying to predict the stock market, predicting future employee success seems to be one part magic, one part luck, and one part guess.
How do you make more of your guesses good guesses? How do you position yourself for more luck, more magic? How do you find the right long term employees for your business?
- Do a brain check: Of course, there is a lot of information, advice, and studies out there to help you make hiring decisions. However, there seems to be smart articles and even empirical data to support most any conclusion: only hire A players, hire a bunch of remote workers, hire kids from the best colleges,etc… To make it easy on yourself, you might consider dropping a lot of the theory, and using quick checklists to cover your rational bases. A good quick hit list for analyzing potential hires is the 7 C’s approach by Alan Hall. You run down this list: Competent, Capable, Compatible, Commitment, Character, Culture, and Compensation. If they get a yes on each one, your brain is covered.
- Do a heart check: You and your team have to want to workwith your new hire. The importance of this can’t be overstated. This does not mean to hire in your own image (hiring people that look, think, or act like you.) In fact, it’s a sure sign of a competent hiring manager if they develop a diverse team capable of good quality, independent work. How would having to work with this person make you feel? Take this feeling and examine it. Are you bringing in pre-conceptions? Stereotypes? Past assumptions from other people? But if you really don’t want to work with them and it’s for a real reason, trust that feeling – it’s important.
- Do a gut check. What did you think about the person when they first walked in the door? What did you think of them when you first read their resume? How did they shake your hand? Take all of your quick reactions and assess them as a bundle. Did your second reaction validate your first? Did your third touch point with the candidate seem consistent with the first? Your gut is smart: humans are designed to be capable of quick, accurate assumptions about other people. Often, when looking back on a bad hire, it’s common to think “I knew this was going to happen – my gut told me and I didn’t trust my gut.” Trust your gut– but treat it like any other opinion. Give yourself multiple times to affirm or deny your gut feeling, and then trust those feelings in aggregate.
Know that hiring is tough and you’re going to make mistakes. But don’t let potential mistakes paralyze your growth. Without constantly improving and growing your team, it’s likely your company will slowly fall behind. Do your best to make smart, informed decisions about new hires, but also give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. You, like the people you’re hiring, are only human.