Staff the 
Not the J


by David Crockett       

   WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT TYPE OF DECISION you make on our job? The answer for a manager is simple: Hiring the right person for the right job. What constitutes the right hire? A person who is able and willing to do the work, someone with team spirit and who is manageable, a professional who fits the corporate image and who is personally compatible with your company's place on the corporate evolutionary scale. That is a seemingly tall order and one that has frequently gone by the boards. A recent study indicated that American management is three times more likely to hire the last person interviewed then any other candidate. What kind of comment does that make about our analytical and interviewing abilities?
   There are several ways in which we make a prudent final decision and avoid poor hires that cost time and money, frustration and prestige.
   One is the common practice of hiring in the perceived image of yourself or an existing group member ("This is the guy we should hire, he's just like John"). This is a folly far too common in business. Don't be fooled into hiring to replicate others. Instead, look for balance to strive to add depth to your team; if you already have a few sharp shooters, start looking for artillery engineers, pilots or ballistics experts. A team of young turks should look for maturity and hire people who can share with new generations the practical solutions and know-how that only a lifetime of experience can bring.
   As there isn't always one perfect choice, compromise and careful evaluation must rule the day. Sift through the short list of candidates and rank the top three contenders. Why three? Because the hiring process is a two way street and your first choice may not feel a mutual attraction. However you select that candidate, fill the work not the job. A question I continue to hear from clients is: How am I going to fill all the open positions on my organization chart? I tell my clients to staff the work not the jobs!
   Why would you ever hire anyone anyway? My guess is you have a bunch of work you need to get done and you were hoping to find some people to help you.
   In my last article, I discussed a hire and retention strategy. Remember you are busy hiring the best fit candidates for key roles on your team. Also remember to look at your existing staff to fill that work before you look to the "outside."
   Stop pretending that staffing needs are stable. The reengineering gurus decided to change all of that. Cut the dead wood. Streamline business processes using new technologies. Restructure the new lean staff around the new streamlined work. Get lean. Get nimble. Get fast.
   Now that companies have downsized, the economy seems to be improving or changing - management is scrambling to find enough people with the right skills willing to sign on to a long term career commitment in full time, exclusive positions. At the same time, companies must identify candidates to whom they are willing to make a long term commitment (at least in theory) and that narrows the hiring pool substantially. New hires must be approved as the kind of people the company would like to keep around for decades on end, even though it's all a pretend game.
   Any employer determined to limit itself to one cumbersome staffing option will be fighting for crumbs in the new economy. They'll be beaten to the market every time by competitors simply focused on getting all the work done as well as they can and as fast as possible. Wherever, whenever and however they can get the work done. You need a mix of solutions and you need to focus on the present.
   A good reading source is Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners. In his book, Joe gives guidelines for decision making: Combine smarts and instincts, take your chances/unorthodox decisions and rely on your management team. Read this as a tool to help you staff the work not the job.

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