It’s easy to make hiring mistakes, and hiring less than you really need is one of the easiest mistakes to make.
It’s easy to look at the job description, the job duties, and the position’s roles and responsibilities and hire to that template. But much of what allows an employee to succeed isn’t captured on paper, even when you have a list of the attributes that lead to success.
We have written a number of posts on the attributes that allow employees to succeed in transitioning from temp-to-hire positions, attributes like attitude, attendance, flexibility, initiative, and resourcefulness. In many cases, we hire for the hard, measurable, verifiable skills and we ignore the soft skills that really determine whether an employee succeeds or fails. The hard skills alone don’t usually allow an employee to succeed in a role where they have to work with other people and as part of a team.
Hiring based on hard skills alone almost always results in hiring less than what is really required by the position.
Hiring for one level up
One of the reasons that it’s easy to end up hiring out of desperation is due to our laser like focus on hiring only for the position we are filling. Much of the time, we are really hiring to fill the open position—and to fill it with someone who can eventually grow into the next position. This isn’t always true; for some positions, there is little chance of growing into the next position. But when the position you are filling is really the pool for promoting from within, it’s important to hire with that fact in mind.
The reason so many organizations lack the bench strength and a leadership pipeline is that they evaluate candidates only for the position they are currently filling. It’s more difficult and time-consuming in the short run to hire with an eye towards the future, but over the long run it builds a pipeline of employees with the skills to grow into future roles and it builds a company’s competitiveness.
How not to hire less than you really need
It’s important to ensure that you build your hiring criteria on all of the skills necessary to succeed in the role for which you are hiring; this especially includes the soft skills that really allow an employee to succeed. If you have a candid environment where the unvarnished truth is delivered directly, your might need employees that are accustomed to that culture or who have particularly thick skin, for example. It’s important to capture all of the attributes the employee needs to succeed.
Not every position is going to lead to a future, higher-level position. But it is important to identify those positions that are going to make up the pool from which you can promote from within so that you can hire with that goal in mind. One way to determine whether a candidate is right for the position for which you are hiring and one position up is to ask: “If this candidates has the skills to succeed in this role, what will we need to provide her in order for her to develop into the next role for which we may need her?” If you can provide the experiences to help that individual grow, it is likely a good hire. If you can’t provide those experiences, it may mean you need to hire someone that already possesses some of skills required one level up.
We don’t pretend that any of this easy. But keeping these ideas front of mind and asking the tough questions can prevent you from hiring less than you really need and from hiring out of desperation later.