Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We are hiring-- It is always a Crap Shoot!

  A business owner that I was talking with this week told me the title of this blog post!  Her business is in the food service industry and the additional staffer will be a lower level service employee.  She went on to tell me that although they have done this many times, hiring remains a "Crap Shoot".
   As I sat and thought about what she had said, I wondered why hiring remains a "Crap Shoot" with many business owners?   After all, they know what they need and want, what skill sets are required and how the applicant will be able to fulfill those duties, right?  Well, no, not exactly.  Although I don't know this particular business owner real well, I know her well enough to understand that she knows what she is looking for in a new employee.
   I talked with a non profit director last week and asked about a particular new employee.  He told me that he had to  let the new employee go! Wow, this individual called me when she came to town, we had lunch and she left me with an impressive vitae and experiential background.  Interestingly, this individual sought to find a position where she could use her extensive skill set.  I asked what happened.  What the executive director then told me was quite surprising.  Here is what he said.  The employee was given an open position and began work, doing quite well.  However, after a short time, she insisted on staying past closing time, wanting to know lots of security information that she did not have a "Need to Know".  Her persistent desire to have information that she did not have a need to know caused some concern.  One of the non profit board members had some background checking experience and ran a background check and found some "clinks" that were negative.  In fact, the "clinks" were significant enough that the employee was terminated during the probationary period.
    Although the business owner in the food service industry and the non-profit director both needed an employee, many of the same hiring characteristics should be exactly the same!  Although it costs to do a background check, it is probably money well spent-- at least it identifies possible deficiencies that may not have been acknowledged during the job interview process.
   Reference checks of applicant background are always a good idea.  Although I have been "bitten" a couple of times on reference checks, I always do them.  Let me explain my use of the word "bitten" as used here.  In one particular instance, I did check the background of the job applicant.  The reference check came back glowing-- however-- what I actually learned was no more than what most reference checks tell you-- the applicant worked at such a job for a period of time and left for any variety of reasons.  To say anything else could cause consequential legal action if one was to possibly libel or speak falsely of an individual.
   How do you take out the "Crap Shooting" factor in hiring?  In all honesty, you don't.  No matter how much checking, skill/personality tests and other purported measurement tools one may use, there is always a factor of "luck" involved in hiring.  With the food service owner, she has been in business long enough to have a good "gut level" feeling for many folks.  I think that is probably the best that can be done.  If you feel good about the individual when you interview the applicant, the law of averages usually applies and the applicant turns out to be satisfactory.
   We do recommend that you have a rich set of questions that you ask each and every applicant for any position with your firm, organization or entity.  The questions should be the same for all levels of employees, however, you may have additional questions for management or more senior executives.  Today, many employers are reviewing social media sites, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to see what is posted about the job applicant.  If you are not doing that, you may wish to consider doing that.  Although not a fool proof test to identify an individual for your organization, you may be able to identify some characteristics that may be positive or negative for your firm.
   Take time to get the right individual for an open position.  Our many years of  consulting experience strongly suggest that it is much better to run one individual short and everyone have to work harder, than have a mis placed employee who causes all kinds of challenges and trouble.  Employee management is tough today, take your time to find the right employee for your organization.


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