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Fiorenze on HR management

September 2006
Reenergize Hiring Practices

MOST MANAGERS have come to realize that their most troublesome personnel problems are almost always rooted in poor hiring decisions. Poor performance, employee conflict and countless other workplace problems too often confirm a manager’s “gut feeling” that something was not right, even before the employee was hired.

And with so many experts offering conflicting advice on how to “hire smart,” it’s no wonder that the number one complaint of commercial printing industry managers is the inability to “find the right people.”

Recently, these managers have been swamped by ads and direct mail touting scientific—or scientific-sounding—approaches to the hiring dilemma. The allure of any such approach is that it promises an easy and reliable fix to a complex issue. Proponents of behavioral interviewing, for example, will teach you a formula of questions designed to reveal those candidates most likely to thrive in your work environment.

Psychological assessment testing promises to reveal those best-suited to your production, sales, managerial or executive work environments. Now, “emotional intelligence” assessments promise to help you recognize, evaluate and match an individual’s complex personality traits to equally unique and complex workplace dynamics. It sounds a lot like an online dating service search for “true compatibility”...and, truth be told, it is.

But, like successful matchmaking, successful hiring often requires a more artistic than scientific approach.

Recognize that hiring itself is a critical job function. Like an artist must learn how to use a paintbrush, managers must learn the basic skills necessary to hire quality employees. They must also learn that they will be held accountable for practicing those skills. Accordingly, recruiting/hiring must be viewed by all employees in your company as a valued job function, not a random or ad hoc event.

So, train your managers how to interview and select the best applicants. Observe them in the process to ensure that they are putting these skills into practice. Evaluate them based, in part, on the skill with which they utilize the techniques they are taught. Assuming that the techniques are sound, their skillful application will generally yield the best hires.

Consider a continuous process. Most businesses begin to think about hiring when they are under the gun. An employee leaves, sales are tanking, or some other crisis prompts a frazzled executive to conclude “we need someone immediately.” While some hiring will always be targeted to fill an immediate and unforeseen opening, the best hiring is part of a well-conceived plan, where your business needs are anticipated and available talent is actively recruited to meet a longer term goal, and not a quick fix for an organizational problem.
 

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