The Biggest Hiring Mistake
Why changing the way you hire is an important growth strategy for your organization
We’re in the middle of an economic downturn! We all know this, and we’ve all been impacted in one way or another by the current state of our economy. Companies are laying off employees and downsizing, and I’m over here writing a column about The Biggest Hiring Mistake you’re making right now. A bit off base?
Perhaps at first glance, but we are not going to be in this cycle forever and as a business owner, leader, or hiring manager — it’s more important now than ever before that you hire the right talent at the right time for your company’s growing and ever-changing needs.
I’ve spent countless hours over the past several months working with and coaching a lot of people that have been displaced due to the current economic environment. Some of them were employed with the same company for years, decades even, to loyally serving their company, only to be let go when the time came to make budget cuts. And yet others I’ve coached were still in their first year on the job. There is no consistency to why people are let go right now because when hard decisions have to be made, even the best of the best can be on the cut list. But all of these people had one primary thing in common — they were not prepared.
Well, it did. Life does that to us, and sometimes, we’re blindsided. Now, all of a sudden, happily, steadily employed individuals all across our nation and around the globe are finding themselves in the middle of a job search, in the middle of a pandemic, when new jobs are surfacing due to current need and old responsibilities aren’t what’s necessarily needed right now.
I’m really hoping that I’ve painted an adequate, accurate picture of the pressure and sudden shock of the current unemployment either you yourself have personally experienced or you’ve seen many of your peers facing right now. But if you don’t believe it’s really this difficult, I invite you to come sit my chair for a few hours to hear these stories, and you’ll gain a completely different perspective. There are some really amazing, talented, and creative people in the job market right now — and honestly, it’s sad to see so many of them struggling, especially when their talent level would ordinarily land them a job quickly!
As I work with these people who’ve been displaced, I’m really shocked to hear some of the feedback they are getting in the job market, including the reasons they’ve been given regarding why they were not chosen for a particular job — most of which revolves around experience. Either they have too much experience or not enough — and right here is where I believe companies are making their biggest mistake in hiring based on experience right now.
I get it, experience is important, but what’s more important is attitude! That’s the mistake — hiring based on experience alone and not taking attitude into account. Typically, we hire based on experience with the best intentions in mind — you’re looking for that one person who could come in and have an immediate impact, which is something we all need and want, especially if you own a small business.
But if you’re focused too closely on experience as your primary hiring metric, you’re missing (or perhaps ignoring) one of the most important attributes in hiring the right person, and that’s attitude — whether or not that person is an ideal “culture fit” for your organization.
If you focus on hiring for attitude, your organization naturally attracts people with great skill sets, with the potential and eagerness to develop new skills, work hard, and quickly contribute to the growth of your organization in a powerful way.
But I hear it all the time from leaders — they don’t hire for attitude and culture fit, because it takes too much time and effort to train new, perhaps lesser-experienced employees, even if that person puts forth incredible effort and adds tremendously to the team with creative ideas and innovative thought processes. And again, that hesitation to train employees makes it clear that what we really want is immediate impact from new hires — not someone who needs grooming. However, focusing on immediate impact causes us to neglect to train, cultivate, and shape young culture-fits and bring them up within organizations — and this can have long-term, negative effects on your organization, the culture at the office, and employee retention and loyalty.
It’s innate within us as humans to want to learn, discover, grow, and develop — but it takes a true commitment from you to make that happen for each new team member you bring into the organization. You have to commit to your employees to develop the skills you and your business need. Choose the hire based on attitude, their culture fit, and how they mold with your team. Have your other team members, the one’s this new hire will work alongside, the ones who will work side-by-side with this person or even monitor their projects — bring them in to interview this new hire and observe the meld between the team.
Then, bring on the right new hire and build on their hard-working character and willingness to learn. From there, you can mold them into the quasi, counter-cultural, multi-faceted position YOU need on your team through one-on-one’s with you, industry specific trainings, software training, graphics conferences, networking, and other tools.
I know you understand exactly what I’m talking about here, because I’m sure you’re scanning your memory of your most recent unsuccessful hires, and this is starting to come together. You hired for experience.
Think about this analogy — when a flower doesn’t bloom, you don’t blame the flower, you blame the environment in which it grows. Have you been blaming everyone else for the bad hires? Perhaps the reality is — you hired the wrong person for the wrong reasons at the wrong time. Starting from square one, with a clean slate, and building up a hard-working, committed employees is not only revenue-generating for your organization long-term, but it’s rewarding in many tangible and intangible ways — deep, supportive relationships within the work environment; open communication between mentors and employees; increased creativity and confidence level; and others.
Now, this works both ways. Just because someone has a lot of experience in our industry, doesn’t mean they are overqualified for a position, either. Bringing in someone with a lot of experience brings in that wisdom and knowledge from an outside perspective, benefiting your organization as well. If someone has the right attitude, brings lots of experience with them, and seems to bring the right fit for your organization — why wouldn’t you hire them? Look at what they're bringing to the table — industry knowledge, great skills, and a great attitude. If you’re committed to building a world-class team, you can train and educate them on the skills you need.
It’s time for you to stop being busy and invest in your team and your company. It’s time for you to shift your focus from hiring based on experience only, to hiring based on the attitude of the candidate and their ability to fit into the culture of your organization. Build on your team and cultivate adaptable, thriving employees — and from there, you’ll build an unstoppable organization that can not only survive the current situation, but also learn to thrive.
So what say you? Join the conversation and visit my blog at www.sidmeadows.com/blog.