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Strategic Hiring for the Long Term | Synthesis

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Strategic Hiring for the Long Term

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Looking Beyond Your Immediate Staffing Needs

Rapid growth can feel like you’re caught in a storm, that is why it’s important to read the forecast in order to be properly prepared.

When firms experience rapid growth they generally find themselves adding staff quickly, and with less diligence, in order to get their immediate needs met ASAP. The long term consequences of this knee-jerk reaction can be very costly, both in terms of hard dollars as well as morale. This is especially true for smaller and more vulnerable firms with limited resources. Below are just a few of the negative consequences resulting from this practice.

After reading the following please share your comments and any strategies that have helped you mitigate these or related challenges.

Some of the Consequences

Bad cultural fit– Although a candidate may check out perfectly on hard skills, if he or she is a bad cultural fit their presence will become an irritant, effecting both morale and productivity. In a quick-hire scenario this may go unrecognized or ignored for expediency’s sake. As a result current staff may feel that your commitment to the culture you have built has been compromised. The negative impact will be even greater if that person is in a management role. Add to this the additional costs of recruiting, hiring and training a replacement.

Hiring people that don’t have the ability to grow professionally into a management role or a future support role means they will not continue to create greater value for the company. Not every hire will be destined for a management role, but you want to make sure that every support person can continue to create additional value in new roles that will be required as the organization grows. Recognizing the long-term importance of this suggests designing multiple career paths to accommodate projected management and support staff needs, consistent with 2 or more year’s revenue and associated forecasts.

Failure to meet stated goals – Culturally disconnected employees tend to be ineffective leaders, unmotivated, and typically ineffective communicators, key reasons why strategic plans fail. Culturally engaged employees in their midst feel that their own commitment and team spirit are unappreciated. The damage is compounded by their frustration at failing to meet goals according to plan. In a worst case scenario valuable employees may leave the firm; the costs? severance, replacement, impact on morale, disruption in work, and a handicapped organization.

On a related note I recently saw a feature on CNN about Zappos, the on-line shoe company which has been recognized for its winning culture and workplace. The owner and COO were each asked how they manage to find and hire really great people. They essentially said that their search process begins early on rather than at the 11th hour, to allow enough time to really get to know the candidate. In some cases they bring in a candidate on a trial basis for several months before actually hiring them as a permanent employee. That diligence notwithstanding, they too have made a few mistakes. In some of those cases they’ve even paid a $4000.00 incentive for the employee to leave immediately. They view that cost as reasonable compared to the potential harm which that bad hire could cause Zappo’s corporate culture, a culture which they as leaders inspired. Moral? It starts at the top.

Have you lived through any “horror stories” and/or did you devise any strategies that have helped you mitigate these challenges?

Final thought, a quote from Bill Gates: Hire slow…Fire Fast

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