The ability to successfully grow a company long-term is based largely on the ability of the owner to manage the critical resources of time, people and money. In this article, I’ll focus on the people, and specifically the first step: making good hires.
One key to getting very good at hiring is to understand what I call the “hiring continuum.” Hiring is not a single act, but a process. Being clear on when the process starts and when it ends, and seeing it as an ongoing process, is critical to success. In fact, to be effective in catapulting a company forward, the hiring process needs to start earlier and last longer than you might at first expect.
Most of us see the most visible steps in the hiring process –the actual recruiting, interviewing, selecting and making the offer.,. ,But there are essential steps before and after these steps, and it is these early and ongoing steps that will determine the success of your efforts.
Needs assessment and planning. Prior to the recruiting and selection phase, there is the often overlooked “needs assessment and planning” phase. Too often, recruiting begins when there is a vacancy, or at the time a new position is about to be added, often because workload outpaces the existing team. While those are certainly conditions that bring about the need to recruit and select, we know that successful companies assess their hiring needs and create hiring plans well in advance.
What positions will we need to fill in the next several years as we grow? What should be the next hire in that sequence? In what positions might we be vulnerable of someone moving on, seeking more opportunity or simply retiring? What positions really need a stronger person, if that part of the company is going to succeed? These are some of the questions that can help a company assess their hiring needs in advance, develop a plan for hiring, create profiles for each position and to practice continuous recruiting.
With this type of planning in place, companies can move quickly and effectively when an opening does occur, workload demands more staff, or it becomes clear a change is needed. We do not start marketing for customers when we run out of work to do. We should not wait to start marketing for talent (recruiting) until an opening exists.
Onboarding. Once the recruiting is done and the selection is made, there is a phase that follows that is also just as critical to the entire process. Having a strong onboarding process, one that clearly communicates company values, job responsibilities and expectations, can greatly impact how much a company benefits from making the right hire.
The very best candidates are motivated by a good onboarding process. The first 60 to 90 days is so important in making sure that this new person becomes part of the team, understands what they need to be successful and gains confidence in the new company they have just joined.
At the same, the company must use this period of time to fully assess if the hire is a good fit, if this new person possesses the skills necessary and if the pace of work and learning meets the needs of the company. This can be best done by determining in advance what a new hire should know and what they should be able to do, at certain intervals (30, 60 90-days) in their onboarding process.
There are many tools and techniques focused on recruiting and hiring. I am simply suggesting that the chances for a successful outcome are greatly enhanced if the company fully embraces what should happen prior to, and after the recruiting and selection.