A Crit

ical Hire and
tion Strategy

by David Crockett       

    I WAS VISITING A CLIENT THE OTHER DAY and heard an employee say to her �cubicle� mate: �One thing that bothers me about this company is when we hire in a hurry (i.e. not thinking about the fit between the new hires and the total organization). It ends up hurting everyone (new hires and existing employees)!�
    Get the right people in the door and you increase the odds of keeping them. Yet some managers see the selection process as a less important part of their jobs. Managers spend little time identifying the critical success factors for a position, preparing and conducting based on those factors plus evaluating and comparing the candidates before making a a hiring decision. The hiring process and ultimate hiring decisions are among the most important tasks you have as a manager � a critical retention strategy.
    The manager must do the following to achieve his hiring strategy:
1) Analyze the Job. Get input from your team members to clarify the tasks, traits and styles required. 2) Create an interview guide. Be consistent with the question for all candidates, for comparison and assessment later. 3) Include team members in the interview process. It is a team effort to hire and retain successful team members. 4) Consider using personality and skill assessments to help evaluate candidates� skills, work interests and even values. For example: �Tell me about a work incident when you were totally honest despite a potential risk or downside for the honesty. �or �How did you handle a recent situation where the direction from �above� was unclear and circumstances were changing?� or �Describe how you motivated a group of people to do something they did not want to do.�
    While there is no such thing as a totally objective interview or selection process, be prepared to start over with a new batch of candidates if the �right fit� criteria is not met. All new hires are choosing too. Be aware that your talented candidates are coming in to that interview well prepared and typically with multiple career choices. Be prepared to sell your organization or team to candidates. Think about your team organizational �wow� factors � those things that differentiate you from the rest. Whatever your unique selling proposition is, recognize it and leverage it during the interview. Don�t oversell. Painting too rosy a picture can backfire if your recruits find out that you were exaggerating.
    That reminds me of a successful salesperson tragically hit by a bus and killed, who arrives at the pearly gates and is welcomed by St. Peter, who says that she will need to spend one day in Heaven and one day in Hell before she decides where she would like to spend eternity. With great trepidation, she enters Hell and is amazed to find a beautiful golf course, friends, and colleagues who welcome her, terrific food, a great party and even a nice guy devil. At the end of her day, she regretfully leaves Hell in order to experience her day in Heaven. That experience is quite good also, with the clouds, angels, harps and singing that she expected. St. Peter pushes her to make the decision of a lifetime (and beyond). In which place would she spend eternity � Heaven or Hell? You guess it, she chose Hell. When she returns to Hell, she finds a desolate wasteland and her friends dressed in rags and picking up garbage. She says to the Devil, �I don�t understand. Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club, and we ate lobster and danced and had a great time.� The Devil looks at her and smiles, �Yesterday we were recruiting you. Today, you�re an employee.�
    I believe all companies in hiring new candidates have a degree of �courting� and then reality sets in. However, always be honest! Research shows that you actually re-recruit your new hires for the first three years in which they are on board, and that they are easily enticed away during that time. But what about your current team members? While you are busy hiring the best fit candidates for key roles on your team, give a little appreciation to your long-term employees. Often new candidates and new employees are viewed as close to perfect. All the attention goes their way. Show your current employees that they are important and critical to you and to the success of the team, especially as you recruit new team members. 1) Share information with them face to face. 2)Beware of critical information flowing down. Repeated Stories repeated several times barely resemble the original message. 3) Get creative. If team members hear about new hires via memos, try face to face or video! To link these new hires wit long-term employees or vice versa, have open forum meetings, groups outings, informal breakfasts and give employees time to talk. At these informal �outings,� each employee will have a chance to exhibit his or her business acumen. Encourage key staff members to nurture, sponsor, teach, inform, advise and include these �rising stars� in special meetings.
    Connections are major reasons people stay with organizations. If links are weak or nonexistent, leaving is easier. In the constantly changing work environment, it is up to you to strengthen whatever bonds you can between the people who work for you and others in the organization. Their links will strengthen yours, and they�ll be more likely to stay.

David K. Crockett is President and CEO of Atlanta-based HRM Group, a consultancy firm specializing
in change management, executive/management recruitment and management and workforce development.
Contact Mr. Crockett at 678.432.1207 or