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Hiring Great People, 5 mistakes to avoid

Hiring Great People, 5 mistakes to avoid

Hiring great people eh, if we hire great people we’ll have a great business and all will be well!! If only it were that easy, everyone would hire great people and all would be well in the world.

There are so many aspects of the chemistry and formulae required in getting great people that a great person in one business may not fit at all in another business. We are all different, from our cultural preferences, to the leadership styles we like, so much of what makes great employees depends on the employer as opposed to the employee who so often leave,  get released or become career stagnant because they were the “wrong” person.

Have you got clear roles & responsibilities? Are you being honest about the culture within the business? Do you even know the culture in your business? Are there really prospects? Is the role achievable or a pipe dream of yours? Have you considered how long it will take to get the role up to scratch if it is a new role?

Hiring great people, though, is so tough difficult and time consuming, it can cripple a day to day job for a line manager, and if it doesn’t work out the line manager has to go through the pain all over again.

Add to the hiring difficulties the constraints placed on the line manager by the wider business. So often you are forced to create a job spec which is almost impossible to fill, trying to find a needle in a hay stack, people with multi skilled backgrounds, great at everything, or trying to get high calibre staff on low salaries, often risking less experience against higher salaried alternatives. Wages are high, so getting it wrong can be very costly.

So, here, in my own humble opinion, are FIVE of the biggest mistakes to avoid in hiring great people, without telling you how many of them I’ve made 😉

1. Job roles that you can’t or won’t actually deliver on

Have a job spec you can actually and really deliver on as an employer. Have you all (as in the line manager with the support of the stakeholders) agreed what is actually going to be required of the new role, what responsibilities and accountabilities they will hold? Can you deliver on this role to the new recruit?

How many people move to jobs with responsibilities or accountabilities promised but aren’t really delivered (maybe a micro manager up above, maybe unclear R&R meaning others feel this is also their job)? Will they actually get to make decisions? Get it clear internally on what the job spec says, what you are looking for and be honest!! If you cannot promise freedom on budgets then say so, if you expect more team management than leadership, say so. 

2. Don’t try to shoe-horn too much into one role

Life is a constant compromise, smaller business have the advantage of agility and the disadvantage of needing multi skilled and flexible people (who are harder to find than single skilled in-flexible people).  This may be a frustration born out of constraints of affordability, which are real, however, rather than shoe horning everything into one role and expecting someone to deliver it, if you are taking the time to bring new skills into the business it is time to reflect.

What are the greatest priorities? What skills would make the single biggest difference? Focus on these areas when recruiting, the candidates you see may not have all the skills, but make sure when you choose someone they DO have the priority skills as opposed to hiring someone who has all the skills without being strong in your priority areas.

3. If in any DOUBT – DO NOT offer the job

From personal experience this is often a very easy one to fall foul of, especially when you are tired of recruiting, you have recruiters desperate for their fee and are pushing for a decision to offer as opposed to ensuring you have the right person for the role. Maybe you’ve been searching so long you just want to move on and close this down. Getting it wrong is normally more costly than waiting for the right person, so, if in doubt, do NOT offer.

4. Don’t resist changing the role for the right person

Another area that can really hamper you is finding someone with just the right skills you need to help your business, but they also have other skills that would work for you, or these other skills mean they command a higher salary. If you find the right person for the company, review the R&R internally to see if you can accommodate their skills, if you can, re-write the job spec, offer them the job and inform everyone of the changes coming. In a growing business this is really key.

5. Be totally honest with potential employees

This shouldn’t really be the last on the list, rather the first. It sounds so easy to say, yet are you really missing out a number of key components that would influence someone’s decision to join you? When a new employee joins, both you and them are making a significant investment of your time and effort into each other. If there are things they would have liked to know, they will find out in time and may not only hold you in disregard for it, but also then move on leaving you no better off.

Have you got a really difficult and picky Finance department, is the leadership style of the business dictatorial or alternatively procrastinating? Is their overlap and conflict at a management level that affects employees day to day as they watch leaders battle it out, undermining each other as they seek to gain favour and influence? Is there a reason someone would not join you? If so, you should tell them, but also seek to resolve it. 

So, in summary, recruitment is really tough and time consuming to get the right people! In my own experience, I’d say I’ve got less than 50% success rate on hiring people that turned out great, which is hard to admit! How about you?