Hire the right person

I recently went to lunch with a C-level executive and a Director that reported to him. During the course of lunch we began to talk about the Director’s department and the pressure his team was under. I mentioned that I had come across a potential candidate that could be an asset to their team.

The executive proceeded to ask the director if there was a person to “Topgrade” from the team. This was not the first time I had heard about topgrading as other C-Level executives have spoken to me about the ability to improve their people.

I think we have all played Red Rover in school and understand the saying. “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”

The C- Level executive understands that there is constant pressure to complete more mission critical issues with less input. Studies that show the cost of the a mis-hire can range from 3 times the person’s base salary up to $1.5 million. 

I have seen several instance where companies are using this downturn to attract “A” level talent to bolster their ranks.
I think if you asked high level executives to rank different things in their organization they would agree that hiring is very important.

Earlier in my career I saw hiring and recruiting  in action. I worked for the Regional office for Orkin Pest control, a division of Rollins. I traveled to different branches and was able to see many different management styles.

In Denver, Orkin had one of the largest residential offices in the nation. The branch had problems with constant turnover and I joked that there was a revolving door in the front and in the back. Within a service oriented environment turnover is a revenue killer. At the Orkin office in Denver they had a very short-term outlook and constantly hired people who did not have the same career goals that were required. The constant turnover pushed those “A” level hires to the brink of quitting because of the extreme overload from picking up from the “C” level hires.

Orkin tried to help control the process by using personality and behavior testing. The branch management failed to see the value of interviewing in determining the actual fit  of each candidate into the organization.  

 In stark contrast, the Orkin Commercial division was very well-managed. The management had a keen understanding of their technical needs and culture. I was included on many interviews and had at several times recommended we hire potential candidates. Many candidates were turned down. I was told by my thorough Branch Manager that we were not looking for someone who could just perform the tasks required. We were looking for someone who excelled in the tasks. In other words we were looking for “A” level candidates.

I have never forgotten that lesson taught to me by a very smart and confident Branch Manager.  It was interesting to me how offices with the same internal messages from corporate took different approaches that had vastly different outcomes.

Having thought about it over the years, I really see how individuals who understand the profile and requirements of the position help to attract and hire top-level talent. So the next time you go to interview it may be good to look at ways you can attract and hire “A” level candidates.

Link to the book on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Topgrading-Leading-Companies-Coaching-Keeping/dp/0735200491

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Searching for a job can be a tough pill to swallow

Recently my house was besieged with sickness. I had one daughter with mono and strep throat, a son who sounded like a bull mastiff every time he coughed, and a little toddler who was slowly wilting like a dried flower because he was sick.

Any time I try to get my oldest daughter age 9.5 to swallow pills it’s like I’m trying to pull teeth. She hates swallowing pills. In fact, she tries different methods so she can avoid swallowing them. I try to tell her that if she will just swallow it, it will literally take her two seconds and the discomfort will be gone.

We have tried everything: smashing it up and putting it in a drink; leaving it in a glass of water hoping it would dissolve; once she tried chewing the pill but, “eeeewww,” that didn’t work.

Sometimes she even asks for advice, but in the end, no matter what I say to her, she is determined to do it her way.

I laugh sometimes to see the struggle.

The author Erica Jong is quoted as saying “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

I am often asked for career advice from people I know in regards to resume writing, career paths, interviewing, and general hiring practices.  Most of the people I talk to know what to do. They know they need to treat the job search like a full-time job. They know that a small percentage of jobs are filled via job boards. They also know that they need to be out networking.

Then, why do they still sit hour-after-hour sending generic, non-customized, resumes to “black holes” on job boards? Rather than asking their friends, acquaintances, and business connections for help or leads?  Fear of bugging them maybe? Or maybe just the path of least resistance.

But, just like taking medicine there is a direct path of getting hired that has larger resistance, that is difficult to swallow, but in the end will save you time and energy.

I was reading a great book called “Take the Risk” by Dr. Ben Carson. He has a sample Best/Worst case analysis that helps to clarify times of uncertainty. It is simple yet eloquent.

We can ask ourselves four questions and from the answers we should know what we should do.

If I take a risk, what is the best outcome? What is the worst outcome? If I do nothing what is the best outcome? What is the worst outcome?

Sit down sometime and think about your current scenario; whether it’s a job search, a career change, or simply networking with people you don’t know, and ask yourself about the risks. Answering those questions has really helped me to take a few more risks and achieve my realistic goals.

For anyone interested here is the link for the book on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Take-Risk-Learning-Identify-Acceptable/dp/0310259738

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