Posts Tagged ‘HR’

Hiring to Address Your Company’s Weaknesses

April 11th, 2014

As a hiring manager, you and your staff may be more accustomed to recruit and hire new people primarily to bolster the strength of your organization. However, in some cases you need to focus on hiring to address your company’s weaknesses.

In fact, the very act of admitting that you lack certain skills is the first and toughest step to take when preparing to expand your team, according to a recent article at Fast Company by Steven Sinofsky. He cited the example of a fleet management company whose cofounders had expertise in engineering and design.

While the founders were excellent at developing hardware and software, they soon realized that they lacked professional business experience when the time came to tell their story to the news media. This realization led them to hire experts to help them plan ahead and define the roles and responsibilities required to expand their operations. They were hiring to address their firm’s weaknesses head on.

China’s emergence as a dominant original equipment manufacturer or OEM was the subject of a recent post at ClarkMorgan by d.lightdesign’s senior human resource manager Harry Wang. The firm’s social enterprise mission is to make and distribute solar power and light products throughout the developing world.

dumbbell-742370-mWhile building a technical staff, Wang determined that it would be impossible to find “perfect individuals.” The people he was interviewing showed a gap between those with hard technical skills and technicians who had softer skills. Accordingly, Wang decided to make a conscious effort to hire people with a diverse set of skills. The result was a team of workers who possessed complementary weaknesses and strengths and was better situated to achieve the company’s goals.

Writing for LinkedIn, Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Local proposed that instead of trying to get rid of our weaknesses, that instead hiring managers should embrace weaknesses for what they are. This will enable them to leverage the associated strengths that come with each “weakness.”

He provided a list of 16 common weaknesses faced by organizations, including “disorganized,” “inflexible” and “unrealistic.” He then paired this list with their corresponding qualities. While it may seem to be a weakness when an employee is disorganized, Kerpen notes that the employee may turn out to be one of your most creative people. A person branded as inflexible also has the quality of being highly organized, noted Kerpen. Likewise, you can view an unrealistic member of your team as being one of your most positive employees who can do wonders for morale.

It’s not always easy for the key decision makers at an organization to admit to the existence of any weakness, but the sooner you accept the realities of your workplace, the sooner you can take the steps you need to address any deficiencies.

March Madness – What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Can Learn

March 21st, 2014

march madnessIn business, we often find ourselves using sports metaphors to capture the essence of a situation, such as noting that a new hire “knows the ropes” (from expertise in sailing) or that someone has “jumped the gun” (referring to acting quickly without thinking things through, from the starter’s pistol in the world of track and field.)

With that in mind, it’s useful to consider that every year, as college basketball teams compete to see which is the best in the nation, America is fixated on March Madness. Hiring managers can learn a lot from basketball’s March Madness as they go through the process of recruiting and hiring new employees.

For example, when you see an underdog rising to the top during March Madness, you can view the process as comparable to when a new applicant uses hard work and talent to distinguish himself from the competition, notes a recent article by Tom Gimbel at Entrepreneur.

Applicants who may not immediately look like they are the best, at least on paper, can still rise to the top as HR managers get a chance to see them in action (during interviews).

The very process of screening through applicant resumes is akin to the weeding out period when poorly performing basketball teams fall by the wayside. You can look at your initial cuts (such as eliminating candidates who do not possess a college degree or lack experience using a particular application) in the same way that basketball teams are eliminated because they are ill-prepared to deliver the goods on the court, notes Gimbel.

Lester Picker, writing in the National Bureau of Economic Research, raises a question of bias that all hiring managers should keep in mind. He asked whether March Madness leads to “irrational exuberance in the NBA draft.”

The answer was that NBA personnel do not irrationally give too much weight to the most recent, dramatic and colorful data (players who make big, unexpected scores and teams who win unexpectedly). In fact, observing players giving an exceptionally good performance under all the hype and media attention is like watching a job applicant shine while under the glare of intense questioning by HR professionals.

Finally, when you like a promising candidate who is on the bubble, you are advised to follow up and make an offer before he is snatched up by one of your competitors. This is just like when teams identify a supremely talented player during March Madness and inundate him with lucrative offers.

Because sports metaphors like March Madness are so useful in describing the highly competitive world of recruitment and hiring, we should expect to see them remain as powerful tools amongst hiring managers and recruiters.


Looking for Talent: Inside or Outside Your Organization?

September 6th, 2013

hire internally or externallyMichael Ducy’s article “Hire Goats, Not Outside DevOps Engineers” on advocates sourcing candidates from within an organization rather than externally. He compares DevOps, with their unique blend of bridge-building and multi-disciplinary skills, to goats, which constantly test limits and boundaries when they are fenced in.

Goat analogy aside, Ducy hits home in the crux of the matter: can an outsider really make effective cultural changes in an organization? In making the decision to re-position employees or hire externally, you must consider organizational health and culture as well as the specific job requirements.

Sourcing from Within the Organization

Promoting from within saves costs and time just in terms of the recruiting process. Other advantages are:

  • Candidate knows the organization and its structure
  • Connections and relationships already exist
  • Candidate is a proven asset
  • Improved employee morale as peers recognize career opportunities; retention tool
  • Better acceptance of new ideas within existing team

On the negative side, you’re drawing from a smaller talent pool. There is also the risk of stagnancy, training and learning curve time.

A well-developed and strategic succession plan will help identify candidates for open positions. Besides experience and technical expertise, the plan should include soft skills like leadership and teamwork strengths as well as the ability to negotiate and build bridges.

Hiring Externally

An external candidate can be a catalyst for change in processes, and can also:

  • Bring more experience and education to the job, as well as up-to-date technical knowledge
  • Have a fresh outlook with new energy and new ideas
  • Reduce your training needs

However, external searches are costly and time-consuming. The incumbent will need to learn the organization’s culture and structure. Morale could dwindle as other employees see fewer promotional opportunities and resist new ideas. Dealing with an unknown may be risky in terms of experience and performance.

Is there a middle ground? Perhaps an employee referral of an external candidate would be the best of both worlds. Your employee could judge the fit as he knows the candidate as well as the organization and its culture.  In addition, employee referral programs often provide good incentives to those employees that the referral stems from, which can also improve morale.

Is There Only One Answer?

Of course not. Each hiring decision must be made based on a position’s requirements and overall organizational health. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I concerned about retaining key leaders? Is our organizational culture very strong? Is employee morale and acceptance of new ideas important? Think about repositioning from within.
  • Is it a turnaround role? Do I want a catalyst for change? Do we need to invigorate the function with new competencies? Consider looking externally.

Whether you promote from within or hire externally, always seek the best candidate from the job, not only for experience and technical skills but also for organization and cultural fit.