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.
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?