Employee Selection: What a Dum Dum I’ve Been!

By Barry Deutsch

I was recently invited to give a presentation to a national trade association of 150 CEOs running businesses between roughly $5 and $50 million in a particular B2B niche. At the end of my talk, one of the CEOs came up to me and said: “Now I realize what a ‘dum-dum’ I’ve been. I now understand why so many of our hires have failed to live up to our expectations.”

All I did was walk the group through our Success Factor Methodology — which essentially, when stripped down to the basic elements, is a common model for best practices in hiring wrapped in our words, terms, and “sticky phrases.” (You might not remember me talking about the three techniques of sourcing great talent in our well-known hiring top talent workshop — but you will remember my terms such as hiring the tallest pygmy, fishing in the shallow end of the candidate pool, and taking whomever lands on your doorstep.)

Do You Feel Like a Dum-Dum?

  • Would you admit that your hiring success is less than stellar?
  • Have you had that special “a ha” moment when you realize your hiring process for employee selection, interviewing, assessment, and evaluation could probably use a major overhaul?
  • Is your hiring process so weak that a significant portion of your hires fail to live up to your expectations (I’m going way out on a limb here, and assuming you’re defining expectations of quantifiable results, outcomes, and deliverables)?
  • How do you know if your hires are even living up to your expectations of performance or success?

If one of the key elements in your employee selection process is NOT to define performance or success before interviewing, it’s got to be a little tough to quantitatively measure success or failure.

When was the last time you sat down with your executive team and walked through how the selection of top talent employees works at your company. I’ll bet in many cases you’ll either start to laugh or cry. In most cases (based on comments and feedback we hear everyday from candidates in our executive search practice and from hiring executives), your hiring process may resemble a Dilbert comic strip.

In most companies, employee selection, finding employees, and hiring top talent is not a process. This is one of the TOP TEN MISTAKES IN HIRING. Even in large companies, hiring managers do whatever they desire when the door closes and the interview begins. Hiring in most companies is a random, arbitrary set of events predicated on how Tom, Sally, or Mark does it. There is NO consistency, structure, standards in hiring.

I’ve consulted with numerous sales teams in which three to six sales managers across the country are hiring the same type of sales professionals. These are typically divisions of large Fortune 500 companies. In almost every instance, every manager had a different approach, criteria, questions, and style to interviewing, selecting, and hiring the SAME candidate. When this lack of integrated hiring process occurs, selecting employees is a process built upon LUCK as opposed to a consistent, reliable, common, replicable methodology.

Here’s my thought-provoking question of the day: When is the right time for you to begin implementing a rigorous hiring process that improves your probability of hiring top talent at every level in the organization? Should it be when you have one more hire to make in the next 12 months — or 22? Should it be when you when to grow your sales by $300,000 over the next 12 months, or $7 million?
Originally published: Sep 4, 2011

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