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July 17, 2008

(Flashback) Hire in Haste - Repent at Leisure

Recession or no recession, the great battleground for companies, industries and nations will be over talented individuals.

You can see the storm clouds forming now. Just look at the battles over talent between the Middle East, Asia and the West. A fascinating topic for another time.

This would seem to put talented people (like us right?) in a favorable position...and it does.

But, don't let this color your vision too much if you are hiring right now. Poor hires can bring a mountain of problems with them. Everything from disturbed work teams through to lost clients, reduced revenues and project failures.

This is without even contemplating the direct costs of search, hiring, firing and starting over again.

So how to avoid this? Great question - there are a lot of common sense tips that can help you to immediately improve the hiring cycle to make sure that you get the right people in the right roles... most of the time.

Apart from number one this list is not about how to find good people, there are lost of posts around the blogosphere on that.

1. The networks the thing.

The best people aren't looking for work. They are either in satisfying work, or they are being courted right now!

What is the option? Post job ads and wait for people to respond? The best don't need to look for work, they get offers. If you want to get them interested then you have to go into their space and not wait for them to come into yours.

Every major job source and data company from to Execunet say the same.

2. Be quick about it.

Once you have the right person on the line, then don't waste time in reeling them in. Time wasters seem to naturally gravitate to the hiring process, and I hear of many stories of good deals falling through because of inaction not disinterest. (On either part)

3. Upset the team.

A totally untested recommendation, but the more I observe teams in action the more I am convinced that injecting members who will maintain the status quo is a sure fire way to achieve mediocrity.

Injecting people who are a little quirky, a little ambitious, and the sort of people who will drive competitive behaviours is a great way to re-energize a team.

4. Don't lie (obfuscate, omit, neglect to mention, downplay etc) about any issue at all.

Ever, there is nothing worse. (Nothing)

Lying to your prospects will only go as far as the first day. Then once they are on board, and they work it out, then its over and they will either leave quickly. Or if you have them trapped for some reason, they will hang around and be not as productive as they should be.

Then when they do leave they will do so under a dark cloud of discontent.

I don't know where it came from but the saying "people don't leave companies they leave managers" is an incredibly insightful statement... and deceitful management is one of the key reasons I regularly hear.

5. Take the money out of the picture.

Be upfront about the cash and benefits from the very beginning. Negotiate hard, but remember that even losing this one is winning. So it isn't life or death.

Once the deal is done then the rest is smooth sailing. If your candidates are truly out of your reach then this will be obvious from the beginning, if they aren't then best to separate as friends at the beginning.

Regardless of how many ads or surveys I see telling me that non-financial motivators are the most important... I still think that the cash counts. Lots!

It is truly disheartening to go through an entire process of negotiation for the role, the duties, telephone interviews and whatever else... only to find that the package was not in line with what you were looking for, and isn't going to be.

6. Be Personal.

The bigger the company, the greater the disconnect between employee aspirations and corporate ability to meet those dreams.

It is so annoying to have an inspiring negotiation fall through because of an inability to accommodate a specific issue, a specific salary or benefit requirement.

The days of being able to command the high ground and have the talented people flock to you are ending if they are not over already. Talented people are holding a lot of the cards now, and will increasingly do so in the future. (recession or no recession)

So a small lean either way on this issue is not going to hurt, and it could make the difference between hiring the gun salesperson or missing a revenue growth opportunity.

7. Make sure you can't give them everything.

I think this is pretty important.

Good people like to excel at things, they like challenging situations and they generally like to be creative. (My take on it anyway) If everything is already in place, and their role is just to "fit in with the rest of the team" then you were thinking of somebody else when you hired them.

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