“She Seemed Perfect For The Position.” What Went Wrong?

These are the exact words of a CEO I was recently talking with about a search to replace a candidate they had hired six months earlier and wasn't performing.  The CEO explained how they had spent a lot of time with the candidate, she had multiple interviews, she completed a DISC assessment, and simply put, “We all loved her for the position.” Yet, after all of this effort the person wasn't able to perform.  It all seemed very perplexing.

My partner, Barry Deutsch, and I have heard this same story many times in our  collective 50 years+ as recruiters and in our hiring best practices workshops. One thing we can all agree on is that something went wrong. Although no hiring process in the world will get 100% results, it is possible to raise the hiring accuracy to  the 80% level.  That is pretty good considering studies have shown that traditional hiring methods produce candidates that meet or exceed the hiring manager's expectations around 56% of the time. This shows that something is going wrong with hiring in many companies.

I started by asking two questions to better understand how they went about hiring this “perfect” candidate.

  1. I asked if she would email me the job description. It was very traditional. It was mostly focused on the candidate's background and experience, not the job. In reality it was a people description, not a job description. It had great detail about all of the experience they wanted the person to have, education, years of experience, all the behavioral traits, a very comprehensive list of duties, tasks, and responsibilities, and requirements for management and leadership. Over all it was well thought out and I know they spent a lot of time developing it.
  2. The next thing I asked her was, “Have you audited, not co-interviewed, but audited whether the people in the hiring process are even competent interviewers?” She said, “No.” So another classic problem reared its ugly head. What if just one wasn't competent at interviewing? Interviewing is only as good as the worst interviewer on the hiring team. People often assume that just because a person has hired in the past they must be good interviewers. This is just not true.

It was easy now to identify why this person, that everybody loved, may not have worked out.

  1. The job description didn't really define the real job. It defined a person everyone expected  or thought could do the job, because they had done it before. Not true. Just because someone has done the job before it may make them a great X, but it doesn't make them the right X for your position. This is positively the number one biggest hiring mistake.
  2. The people doing the interviews were not trained and since the job description didn't describe the real job, most just conducted a generic interview. They asked the same questions they were asked in interviews. They assumed what the real job was and asked if the person had ever done these tasks before. Which of course they had, as it was obvious from the resume.  Add to that the likability factor and is it any wonder why this hire went wrong?

If she wants to hire a successful person, the first step is defining success in the role. Few job descriptions actually do this. Most define a person's background and experience along with the very basic duties and tasks. Neither of which define success. If the person only performed the listed duties and tasks most would not consider this a top talent hire. She had to define outcomes. What level of performance is this person going to be held accountable to? Even the basic duties have an expected level of high performance. For example, process X number of invoices per hour, make X number of sales call per week, receive a score of X or higher on customer feedback forms, respond to all customers within 24 hours, and so on. Now this defines performance and success.

Then she had to develop interviewing questions that determine the person's ability to deliver this level of success. Now the people interviewing are actually interviewing with a purpose. Not just a free for all. Everyone understands what  the goals are and what questions to ask. It is not random. The people interviewing are now focused on determining the candidate's ability to deliver these results.

Finally, the candidate also knows what will be expected of them when they come on board. In some cases this will scare off those good solid below average performers. Once they know what is expected of them they may not want the job. This is a good thing.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, You’re NOT The Person I Hired. Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad

 

Be ANGRY over the average productivity of your employees

Get angry over the average productivity of your employees

 

Be ANGRY that your employees are NOT performing at a higher level than expected. Be ANGRY that your executives and managers are NOT hiring outstanding talent at every level. Be ANGRY over hiring mistakes.

In a blog article published on the Chinnovate.com blog, Tim Yanglin quoted a McKinsey Study looking at the productivity difference between average and mediocre employees. This study was done with major corporations. My perception – although I’ve not quantifiably tested it – is that in small businesses and entrepreneurial companies, top talent is more productive than average talent – sometimes by a factor of 4X-10X. Here’s the study the author of the blog article quoted:

 

 

Global consulting firm McKinsey, for example, reports that top performing executives deliver more than twice the productivity of average performers.

The report continues to identify that it takes a mix of top performing executives and leaders to pursue and implement a variety of growth strategies, which will lead to consistently superior results. On the other hand, McKinsey found no measurable correlation between revenue growth and teams with solid but unexceptional leadership; mediocre or B-level players will deliver average performance.

 

If the gap is so large, why do you allow your executives and managers to continue to hire underperforming, average, and mediocre employees? Let’s take this one step further – why do you allow these individuals to remain on your team?

Get angry over this issue. Make hiring top performers a key initiative instead of falling victim to desperation hiring, making multiple mistakes in the hiring process, and taken anyone who basically shows up at your doorstep.

Everyone complains about their team, hiring, performance, and productivity. Next to talking about your ailments, this probably ranks up there for executives as their next biggest “whine”. Let’s stop whining and start doing something about it.

In 25 years of executive search, over 1000 search assignments, 250,000 candidates interviewed, and over 35,000 executives and managers who have seen our workshop program titled, “You’re NOT the Person I Hired”, most companies give the concept of hiring great employees lip service. Their actions don’t match up with their words.

Here’s a quick test to determine if your actions match up with your words:

  1. Do you set performance expectations for all employees?
  2. Are the performance expectations in place before searching for a new employee?
  3. Do you have a structured program of rewards and consequences for meeting or missing expectations?
  4. How many people on your team right now are NOT living up to your performance expectations? Do you written performance improvement plans for each one?
  5. Are all your executives and managers well-trained on how to use best practices in hiring to find, interview, and select top performers for their teams?

If you answered NO to more than 2 of these questions, perhaps it’s time for a “check-up” of your hiring practices. You can download our FREE hiring process self-assessment checklist to determine if your organization is capable of hiring top talent.

Click here to download our one page hiring self-assessment to conduct a check-up on your hiring process.

You should be angry over these issues – both at yourself and your executive team – for allowing it to happen. Stop just letting hiring “happen”. Drive better company results by being the visible and LOUD champion of hiring and retaining top performers.

Here’s the key: the quality of employees in your organization determines your “glass ceiling”. If you have average and mediocre people, then your results will be mediocre and average. If your not getting exceptional performance within your industry or market – beating your competitors every day and generating above average metrics in revenue, profit, and operational excellence, then perhaps it’s time to take a look at the quality of your team.

Barry Deutsch

PS – Don’t forget to get your FREE digital copy of our best-selling book on hiring, You’re NOT the Person I Hired

How Important Is Hiring and Retaining Great People?

Is Hiring and Retaining Top Talent Important To Your Organization?

On a recent Harvard Business Review Blog Article, titled Good Managers Lead Through a Team, Linda Hill & Kent Lineback spoke about how the ability to manage teams is one of the key pillars of success for managers and executives. This an excellent and well-written article that all managers and executives should read.

I commented on the article since I felt the authors missed the key point about people and teams. It’s not as much the ability to manage them – as it is the issue of hiring and retaining them.

Here were my comments to the authors. What are your thoughts?

 

Excellent post about a key pillar of successful managers and leaders. I'll go one step further. In our executive search practice, we've completed well over 1,000 projects and interviewed over 250,000 managerial and executive candidates over the last 25 years. We've identified that the NUMBER ONE element of success for managers and executives is hiring and retaining a top-notch team.

Even hiring managers and executives with technical weaknesses in their functional niche or specialty out-performed their more technically adept peers due to their stronger teams. It affects career progression, job opportunities, bonus and incentives, and job satisfaction.

Managers and Executives who hired middle-of-the-road minimally qualified candidates, and accepted mediocrity among their team members, had average and mediocre careers – passed over for promotions, denied new opportunities, and failed to earn their full bonus potential.

No other trait or ability appears to come close to the correlation of success for managers and executives and their ability to hire and retain top talent.

Unfortunately, most companies give the concept of hiring top talent and “our people are our most important asset” lip service. Rewards, incentives, goals, objectives, and consequences don't match the propaganda most companies spew out about their people and teams. You can find isolated cases of companies that make hiring and retaining a top priority – but the list is very small. More likely, you'll find a few managers and executives scattered through-out different companies who instinctively “GET IT.”

Why do you think there is such a gap between the generic words about the importance of people and team members vs. the practical application on a day-to-day basis?

 

Share your experience of what happens when managers and executives do a great job of hiring and retaining top talent vs. what happens when weak, average, and mediocre people are hired and “tolerated.”

If you would like to read the full article, click the link below:

Good Managers Lead Through A Team

Barry Deutsch

 

PS: Download a copy of our best-selling book “You’re NOT the Person I Hired” and take our Hiring Process Assessment to determine if your organization is capable of hiring top talent.

Do You Think Checking References Is A Waste Of Time?

I was recently facilitating our, You’re NOT The Person I Hired, workshop with CEOs and key executives. As is often the case, the subject of reference checking came up. Most in the audience tended to agree that checking references is a waste of time. After all, candidates only give references they are sure will say positive things about them. Don’t you agree?

Then a CFO sitting in the back raised his hand to disagree. He told the story of a controller he was about to hire near the border in Texas. This was a difficult position to fill as there were a lot of specific requirements. Finally, after an arduous search he found his person. She had all of the qualifications and most importantly he really like her. The final step was to conduct a few reference checks. She handed him a list of 30 references. Wow he thought, this person really has a lot of people willing to vouch for her.  Then he picked five of them and started calling. The first call was to a former boss. He introduced himself and explained that he was calling to conduct a reference check on Mary. The line went silent. The pause was so long that he thought they were disconnected and asked if the reference was still on the line. The reference replied yes and then stated, “Mary gave me as reference? I can’t believe it. We fired her because she stole from us. She did pay us back but she stole from us.” Now there was silence from him. He didn’t know what to say or how to respond.

This is just one of many examples of what can happen on a reference check and why you should always perform your due diligence. Granted, this may only happen once in your career, but in this case the once may have saved the company thousands if she has stolen again.

I have conducted thousands of reference checks in my 30 year career as an executive recruiter. I have learned that more often than not someone will give me a reference they expect to be positive and it turns negative. It is for this reason that I always check references. Like the CFO in this example, it has saved me from making some big mistakes. It only takes one bad reference to realize that catching that one person was worth all the others.

If you have stories or experiences regarding strange things that have happened when you have conducted a reference check I would love to hear about them and share them with others. Please take a moment to tell others your story.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn in which 54% replied that they have had people give them a negative reference. This goes to show that even though the person giving the reference expects a positive reference they often don't get one.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

How Small Companies Can Compete Against Larger Companies For Talent

Q. We are a small growing company. How do we compete for talent with larger companies, since we can't pay as much as they do?

In my search practice I have placed people in small and large companies. The main issue is rarely compensation. In fact, if that is the primary issue then you will never win, as there is always some company willing to pay more, and that goes for large companies too.

First off, should you even be competing against large companies for talent? Their culture, resources, support, systems and budgets often will not align with a small company. That isn't to say never, but often, so you might be searching in the wrong pool for candidates.

Secondly, especially in this economy, money isn’t everything. Candidates today are seeking much more than just compensation. The are seeking stability, work-life balance and a company where they feel they can make an impact. Smaller companies tend to have a lot less bureaucracy, there is hard work but it's a fun place to work, there is a personal touch where everyone knows everyone, it's a growing company with an exciting vision for the future and so much more. It has been my experience that smaller companies don't think about these things when hiring. They go right to compensation, when for many candidates these things have a value or trade off to compensation. Granted, there is a fair compensation for every position and person, but once that level is met other things come into play.

Finally, don't ignore the seasoned workforce. I constantly hear about how age discrimination is happening. Many of these people would be outstanding employees and bring a level of expertise no younger worker could bring and also do it for a very reasonable compensation package. This workforce is underutilized in today's market by many smaller companies.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and you can download our free eBook under the FREE Hiring Resources section.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard