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Avoiding Hiring Mistakes- and Recovering from Them

I’ve seen a recent flurry of articles about strategies to avoid bad hires, perhaps in response to those oft-cited disengaged employees deciding that the economy has recovered enough that they can take a chance on a new position.  In this blog post at  Fistful of Talent from Steve Boese, Jonathan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Pure Digital (creator of the Flipcam), is quoted saying “If you hire someone bad, fire them immediately and give them a big severance package so they feel good about you”.  At Zappos, call center employees are offered a $1,000 bonus if they choose to leave after their first week of training.

Steve’s post explores different termination scenarios in which he feels that paying severance is a reasonable strategy, excluding the case where the employee is not just a poor fit for the job from a skills perspective but also a behavioral perspective.  He rightfully assigns significant responsibility to the employer for not only poor screening and hiring decisions, but failures to onboard, coach and develop new employees.

I’ve blogged about this topic before.  It remains relevant because making good hiring decisions is both difficult and important.  Picking the right employees  requires a combination of clarity on the part of the hiring manager about what’s required for success in the job, an effective working relationship between the recruiter and hiring manager, and the use of appropriate screening mechanisms to objectively determine the right fit for the job.

It seems to me that some of the management omissions that lead to the need to let new hires go quickly are the same ones that create disengaged employees – failure to observe, develop and coach.  Depending on the survey you read, 30-50+ percent of employees say they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months.  Paying attention to those smoke signals in your organization may not only help you retain your current talent, but improve your odds of holding on to those willing to join you in the future.

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  1. Steve Hunt #

    Good points, Joyce. I believe one of the main reasons for poor hiring is simply people don’t treat hiring decision seriously in terms of the time they put into them. As one manager told me years ago, “we spend far more time in requirements meetings and conducting vendor evaluations around whether to buy a $20,000 piece of machinery than we spend on deciding whether to hire someone who we will pay $50,000 a year to operate and maintain it”.

    There are lots of ways to improve the hiring process, but the one thing they all require is spending more time defining job requirements and developing and implementing methods to assess candidates against those requirements.

    June 15, 2011
  2. Steve Hunt is right that investment of effort in hiring is key–and it is not just at the time of hiring. Managers should always be on the lookout for people who would fit well on their team. This is not so much about extra work as just paying attention. We bump into people all the time, managers should be asking themselves which ones might be good future employees and at least get their card.

    HR & recruiting can facilitate this by occasionally asking managers if they have bumped into anyone who might be a good fit for the organization. It’s a gentle way to build the mindset that managers should be on the lookout for talent all the time.

    June 15, 2011
  3. Sue Mesinger #

    It’s so true — people think it’s cheap to hire someone, but expensive to fire someone. Perhaps if more employers took the time and care at the point of intake, and used better screening and assessments, they’d reverse the trend — and end up saving money!

    June 15, 2011
  4. Thanks for the great post! It is so vitally important to make the right hire, even if that means taking extra time to make the right choice.

    June 28, 2011

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