How to Attract and Retain the Best People

Hire the Best

 

During one of my interviews, someone asked me about my biggest career mistakes.

“That’s easy,” I said, “I have made the mistake of hiring the wrong person. It is an expensive error.”

Since that early career mistake, I have developed a number of strategies and techniques to reduce my hiring errors. And that’s why I loved The Right Hire: Attract and Retain the Best People because the book shares many techniques to get the right person for the job. The book explains that hiring should be both part of the organizational strategy and strategic. I had the opportunity to speak with Lisette Howlett who has fifteen years of global change leadership and business development experience.

 

Make Hiring Right A Part of Your Strategy

How do leaders ensure that hiring is part of the overall organizational strategy?

At its most simplistic, by simply putting it into the strategic plan and elevating it to be part of the leadership and strategic agenda.

The strategic plan outlines where the organization aims to be in the chosen timeframe, typically 5 years, and it should include a section on the organization implications and the hiring strategy required for success.  Adopting an effective hiring strategy is core to the achievement of this plan and will cover different aspects depending on the organization’s strategic intent.  If, for example, the organization is seeking to change direction, expand to new markets or even leave markets and sectors, the hiring plan needs to reflect this.  How will people be hired in anticipation of the future plans, how will they be developed and made ready?  Hiring in this context is not just hiring new talent into the organization from outside but also hiring (or promoting) people from within the organization to new roles and locations.  And similarly, if an organization is exiting a market or geography, thinking about how any key talent in this unit might be retained is critical as well and should be part of the exit plan.

In terms of elevating hiring to be an integral part of the leadership and strategic agenda, one of the best ways to do this is to adopt a balanced scorecard approach and ensure that time is spent on broader leadership topics as well as financial performance.

The less simple way is to invest in the development of what I have called a hiring culture.  This is a culture where the organization is always on the lookout for talent and takes action when it is spotted.  The search for talent, once again, can be internal as well as external.

Additionally, taking a more strategic approach to hiring will go a long way towards ensuring that hiring is part of the organizational strategy.  By this I mean that we need to move away from treating it as a transaction that is forced upon managers due to the need of someone to fill a vacant position in the organization.  We need to think of hiring in the medium term and even long term and start to develop hiring plans to support this.  At the organizational level, think of the competencies and attitudes that you will need for ongoing organizational success and start hiring for them now.  Plan the numbers and skills you will need for your future organization and work to that plan.  For jobs that you know you will always be recruiting, invest in strong talent sourcing systems and hire continually whenever you spot talent.  Hiring ahead of the curve will give you the time to wait for top talent rather than rush to bring someone in just to cover the mounting workload.

 

Don’t miss Skip’s appearance on Atlanta’s Small Business show talking about the 9 Mistakes of an Entrepreneur.

 

The Cost of a Wrong Hire

I’m always surprised at the high cost of a wrong hire. Would you share some of the statistics on making a bad choice? 

Lessons and Quotes from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Powerful Lessons

If you have a teenager in your house, you have heard about The Fault in Our Stars.  Bestselling author John Green’s fifth novel has sold millions of copies, won critical praise, been translated into 47 languages, and the movie adaptation is now in theaters everywhere.  The book and the movie have captivated audiences of all ages.

9780525478812A few years ago, I picked up a manuscript and began reading it (this was before the official release).  I wasn’t too far into the book when I realized its power.  It’s a story about two teenagers, told from sixteen year old Hazel’s point of view.  She is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and meets Gus, another teenager, in a cancer support group.  It explores many powerful life lessons.  No matter how brief our time may be here, we have the ability to live it to its fullest.

I had the opportunity to interview John soon after the book was released.  It was so new that he didn’t want to give away the plot.  In this interview, hear John Green:

  • Explain how he writes authentically from a 16 year old girl’s perspective
  • How he and his brother work to combat “world suck”
  • Whether he has a secret plan on social media (he has millions of devoted followers)
  • Why he once licked a cat
  • And, in one of my favorite answers ever, John did give a true “elevator” speech about the book (must see)

 

Life Lessons

 

I often write about leadership, success, and life lessons.  All of John’s books are filled with quotes on these important life themes.  Here are a few lessons from this book:

Today matters.

Search for love.

No matter how much time we have, we can impact others and the world.

Life is a struggle.

Find your authentic voice.

We all face challenges. Who we become is often based on how we handle what comes our way.

Enjoy the little things.

In a storm, you can handle much more than you think possible.

Wisdom is possible at any age.

 

John Green Quotes

 

Here are a few John Green quotes that will likely have you reflecting from this book and a few of his others:

 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.” –John Green

 

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” –John Green

 

“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” –John Green

 

“Pain is like a fabric: The stronger it is, the more it’s worth.” –John Green

 

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” –John Green

 

“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” –John Green

 

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.” –John Green

 

“Books are so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” –John Green

 

“Youth is counted sweetest by those who are no longer young.” –John Green

 

“We are greater than the sum of our parts.” –John Green

How to Conduct A Job Interview Without Getting Sued

This is a guest post by Johanna Harris. Johanna has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book is USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace.

As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is interviewing an applicant for an open job position. The key is to be probing and thorough and, at the same time, avoid any questions that could be interpreted as illegal or improper.

Not sure how to ask the question?

Sometimes managers ask illegal questions because they’re not sure how to acquire important information that they are in fact legally entitled to know. A manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant can master all of the procedures required of the job. Unsure how to get at these qualifications, he asks the applicant how old he is – an illegal question. Or a manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant is available to entertain clients in the evening. Similarly unsure how to address this issue, he asks her whether she has young children – again, an illegal question.

Four main areas to probe

During a job interview, there are four main areas you want to probe.

  1. Does the applicant have the skills that match the needs of the new job?
  2. Can the applicant be available at the times and places you need him?
  3. Does the applicant possess the core attributes that would make any person a valuable employee?
  4. Does the applicant fit within the culture of your organization?

Skills

To ask effective, legally permissible questions about a prospective employee’s skills, you need to do some homework. That means learning in detail the duties of the job, as well as the level of skill required to perform those duties. It also means prioritizing job responsibilities, as some duties may be more important than others. The formal job description is a good place to start, but it certainly is not the end. Talk to employees who are successful in the same position. Consult with users of the services provided by the new job. Check out industry descriptions of the job, too

Once you know exactly what the job requires, you can craft pointed questions to the applicant that relate directly to the job requirements. That includes her previous work or projects. “How does your experience in the design of user interfaces for retail store management carry over to the healthcare field?” “How does your experience in selling heavy equipment to agribusiness carry over to marketing pharmaceuticals?” There is nothing illegal about giving the applicant an assignment – to be completed either at the interview or at home – that shows whether he indeed has the specific skills required of the new job.

While your focus is on the specific responsibilities of the job, you can still ask more general skill-related questions that help you get a feel for the applicant’s attitudes toward work and interactions with peers. “Have you improved at your current job?” “What skills or experience do you still lack?” “How do you approach your work?”

Availability

An employer has the right to know whether the applicant can be available at the times and places necessary to complete the job. Your task as manager is first to determine exactly what kinds of availability the job requires and then to ask about them up front. “Can you work 15 hours of overtime each week?” “Can you be available to entertain clients approximately twice each month?” “Can you travel out of the city for monthly sales conferences?” “Can you fly to California in March of every year for the annual sales summit?” These pointed questions put the applicant on notice. If he cannot meet these availability standards, he is at risk of being fired. Putting these requirements up front can also give him a sense of comfort that he knows exactly what will be expected of him.

Mobility may be an important prerequisite for advancement in your company. If so, then you should explain that up front, too. You are entitled to inquire, “Are you prepared to transfer from our branch office to the national headquarters?” Even if you believe that applicants with children are less mobile, you cannot ask him a question such as, “So, what arrangements have you made for child care?”