The pandemic unsettled business as usual, forcing many organizational leaders to make the painful choice to downsize. But these losses also present an opportunity for companies that are looking to staff up as the recovery sets in: Plenty of top candidates who would normally be unavailable are either out of work or concerned about the uncertain fates of their current firms.
You have the opportunity to connect with these top professionals — but you must be intentional about it. The health of your company’s culture is crucial to its success. As you plan for a rehiring surge, you need to be sure that you hire the right people. You want employees who will inspire your organization and reinvigorate your business.
Start Now — Before You Need Talent
In the past, I’ve seen too many firms that, upon winning new business, rushed out to make new hires to keep up with demand. This almost always resulted in frustration for the company and its new hires. Hasty hiring can lead to a poor culture fit that drives turnover, weakens morale, decreases productivity, and increases political infighting. Companies looking to staff up in the wake of the pandemic must be careful to avoid the same fate.
Proactive interviewing on an exploratory basis before a position is open is an excellent way to network for talent. Search now before you and your staff are overwhelmed with work; that way, you won’t be pressured to make an immediate hire.
I recall working with an advertising agency CEO who called me six months after hiring a new president. He was unhappy with the new hire and wanted to make a change.
The position had been open because the agency’s former president had moved on to a new opportunity. The search for a replacement stretched on, and the CEO found himself managing both positions, desperate to find a replacement. After many months of searching, he filled the job with a candidate recommended to him by a friend in the industry. This new hire appeared to have the perfect experience for the role.
The new president had been unemployed, which likely gave him a sense of urgency in trying to land this position. In interviews, he said the right things. He spoke of valuing inclusion and collaboration, which fit well with the agency’s culture. He was flexible in accepting a financial package with a bonus that would make his total compensation a lateral move.
The agency was a private, midsize firm, and the new president came from a much larger public agency. He did not expect to be a pivotal part of creating strategic boards. He was used to a pressure-driven, watch-your-back culture. Losing his temper and pointing fingers of blame were natural to him. Those who could not take the heat were weak in his eyes. The CEO began to hear complaints of conflicting values from his key employees. He worried they would start looking for new jobs.
What happened here? In the interview process, both sides were focused more on passing each other’s tests than on better understanding each other’s needs and preferences. They glossed over the challenges, all in an effort to make a hire as quickly as possible. In the end, the CEO had to start the process all over again. All the first hire did was cost the agency time and money.
A Three-Step Plan for Inspirational Hiring
Candidates who are looking for a better opportunity are trying to sell themselves. They’re listening for what they want to hear and missing what is being said. They are focused on passing the interview test, and they’ll do that by saying what they believe the employer wants to hear.
Companies often commit a similar error. If you’re recruiting under pressure, you’re also likely to listen for what you want to hear while missing what a candidate is really saying. The combination of a candidate who wants to be hired and a company wanting to hire right away can result in poor fits that sabotage the success of a business.
I recommend that you focus on three particular facets of a candidate when trying to ensure that you make the best possible hiring decision:
- Relationship chemistry
- Skills and thought processes
- Work/life expectations
1. Relationship Chemistry
When I sat down with the CEO of that advertising agency, the first thing we discussed was the relationship chemistry of his agency: What values did the company stand for, and how well were they being honored by senior management?
The CEO initially named responsibility, trust, and support as the values that were key to his agency’s success. As he explored the question more deeply, however, he also found there were more than 25 values that were important to him. He was also able to identify values that were not being honored by certain people in the agency.
Values are our rules of conduct, and they are elemental to the actions we take. When we are disconnected from a value, we make circumstances or people wrong, which hurts company productivity and innovation. Being made wrong does not inspire us to act; it makes work harder and is a significant cause for staff turnover….