Hiring and Retaining the Best and the Brightest
Colle Davis, a Senior Executive Coach
The common refrain from leaders today is, “I only want the best candidate for the job.” True, but that premise has an interesting flaw built into it.
- How does a company find qualified candidates to transition and assimilate into their new position? While they may have a degree, a steady work history, or a nice smile, how does anyone know they are flexible or capable of fitting in with their new team and customers?
- What does a company want their new employee to do when they show up for work? Attend meetings in other departments? Network?
- What does the company expect from their new employees? Work forty hours per week and another twenty from home?
- Is the new hire informed enough to accept the position within a company, or are they painted a distorted picture of the position? Do they understand they’ll be required to bring in new business or become proficient in other industry standards and practices?
The caveat is that most companies hire candidates they believe are their new ‘star employees,’ but then people with quirks, nervous tics, or eccentricities show up, making them ill-suited for their new position. Vetting a candidate is much more complicated than HR would have you believe. Companies hire candidates, and people show up to the surprise and chagrin of their new teammates.
Here are some quick solutions:
- Have the team where the open position exists do team interviews with all candidates. The time is well spent because these people must interact with the new person. Accept and live with their decision, even if it means several rounds of interviewing new candidates. Better yet, have the team write up the requirements for the position and ‘hire backward’ to find candidates that meet the needs of the teams.
- Start the new hire with a welcome committee and fanfare so they will have pride in their new position because of their association with the company. Honoring them as they onboard adds to their desire to contribute.
- Ensure they are integrated into their new daily routine by assigning someone to usher them in on the first day of the job. The human factor is vital for onboarding any employee, regardless of rank. Tours are always a nice touch.“Here’s the breakroom,” “Here’s a list of extensions,” etc.
- Suggestion: Assign a guide/mentor for a week/month to show them the layout and routine and explain the expectations of their new job. Require no work or output from them the first few days on the job, orientation only. Expose them to the reasons they are proud of working for the company.
- Train every employee to be a master at their set of crafts. Reward the behavior you wish to encourage; ignore everything else. Acknowledge credentials, rejoice, and celebrate performance. The more ‘bravos’ and ‘atta-boy/girl’ a person receives, the more they strive to please their employer and the team.
With all the advantages presented to this select group, employers believe they can build a team of qualified and dedicated employees. This view is a delusion; the top people will not stay with the company unless they have bought into their company’s vision, have a great boss/manager/leader, and are being challenged and trained at the top of their abilities.
Now, the downside: The best and brightest employees are demanding retention because star new hires are so good their tenure within a company is often tragically short-lived. They leave, and HR gets mad and hires an idiot with excellent credentials and lacks people skills. The star employee gets recruited to another company where they repeat the process, or they become entrepreneurs and get rich.
This next is so sad; please look away. A company with second-string teams of employees now has people who can do their jobs, keep the peace, and are relatively intelligent. These mediocre employees show up most of the time and are loyal (read too lazy to look for another job). Their productivity is acceptable, and the worst are awful whiners dampening office morale. They are slowly weeded out and often moved to other divisions after some training because it is a checkbox requirement of the HR department.
Bottom line: You either push to get the best and brightest hired and keep them happy, or the workforce becomes, as described above, a sea of commonplace people with no vision or mastery to grease the wheels of growth.