So you need to recruit someone into the business? It seems a rationale decision, you are expanding the business, you have noticed that you are working longer hours, getting home later, more customers/clients to see, those few people you do employ don’t seem to be able to take on any of the additional work you are currently doing. Those staff you recruited at the time you set the business up did a good job, but now that you are expanding and developing new markets, those staff, although still doing a good job, they don’t have the skills you need for continuing growth (or that’s what you think).

As business leaders we are faced with all sort of day to day decisions, but how to attract the right people with the right skills at the right time is probably one of the critical decisions that we make without very much thought. All we know is that there is more work needed to be done, bigger targets to achieve, less time in the day to do all the things we need to do to clear the ‘to do list’. ‘Hey Presto’ we need to get somebody – anybody – to fill the gap. I am not suggesting that as business leaders we deliberately set out to recruit poor employees who are not motivated or committed, but we do and can make hasty decisions that may mean we have mediocre performers that may not be capable of developing further than their current level of capability. How often do we hear that a member of the team who was such a good sales person or technical expert, is now failing because they have been promoted to do a bigger job that entails managing people – we promote on the basis of the ‘Peter principle’, that is to the level of the person’s incompetence. It’s important that when you recruit either internally or externally that you know what will be expected within the role and then apply an assessment process to ensure that you have the right person doing the right job.

According to Jim Collins in his ‘Good to Great’ book, one of the principles of a ‘great’ company is  First Who… Then What Collins says, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” He uses the analogy of a bus driver to while describing how to create a winning team within your organization. He recommends that you first get the right people on the bus, and then you get the wrong people off the bus, then the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where you want to drive that bus. Hire people with characteristics you cannot easily instill. Focus on who you are paying, not how. He also recommends analyzing someone’s character, work ethic, intelligence, and dedication to their values before deeply analyzing credentials and practical skills

Let’s consider how some decisions to recruit are made. You have given some thought to the structure of the organisation and the people who are already in your employ. You have identified specific skills that are now needed within your business and so you write down what is needed in the form of a job description and the skills that are required of the person needed to do the job. Are we always that clear of the skills required to let someone new ‘onto the bus’? When did you last properly assess the skills of the staff who already work for you – are they the ‘right people but in the wrong seat’? Could this be an opportunity to let someone in your organisation use untapped strengths that you have not already identified. If you don’t currently review your staff and any potential job opportunities in this systematic way, you may miss out and lose good people in the future. Consider how this type of planning might help in the future growth of your business and team. Giving some thought to this early on in the process will help you to get (and keep) the right people in your business.

So what happened next? Consider the next two scenarios and determine what is likely to work best for your business. You have decided that you need to look externally so…….

a. You have met someone at a networking event or you have been told by a friend that they know someone who might fit the bill, they seem OK, they are not working, they can start straight away – BINGO – problem solved. You know what you’re looking for – you have always been a good judge of character. You arrange a drink after work to ‘talk a few things through’ and the deal is done – sorted in less than a week.

…OR

b. You either advertise the job yourself or use a third party to recruit on your behalf, using the job specification to write a compelling job advertisement or a job brief for your recruitment partner. You then interview a number of shortlisted candidates against the criteria agreed, make your decision based on criteria and evidence gained during that process. You may introduce other selection criteria at this juncture – assessment centres, psychometric profiling, presentations to name but a few. The process is allowing you to determine that the individual is:

  • capable of doing the work to be done
  • inclined to work the way the organisation would wish them to work
  • mutual obligations and  expectations which are clearly defined from the beginning of the employment contract.

Having considered the two scenarios described which method is likely to have the greatest effect on your business? Remember that from the moment you begin this activity you commence the employee engagement process – this sets the tone of the employee/employer relationship from the first exchange. It is important that whoever undertakes the selection process represents your business as you would expect to represent it yourself. Are you, or the person you have appointed, experienced in recruitment and selection processes?

If you or your team are inexperienced, then consider getting professional help to support you in ‘getting the right people on the bus.’ Contact Lisa Harper, lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk