Hire with Head and Heart

Hiring With Prevue Cartoon

Hire with head and heart. If you’re not emotionally engaged to bring on a new hire, it’s a chore. If time and thought is not invested, it’s easy to get weary of the hiring process, and it gets pushed back for a later date. A decision is, by default, uncertain. Such is life, and such is business.

Those best at hiring are usually (no absolutes here, only relatives) more experienced. They know what they’re looking for because they know where they’re going. But more important, they are emotionally connected to get the best get on board. Not the perfect candidate; the best. After all, the role of management is to take good people and make them outstanding., not to look for pret-a-porter.

That’s Purple Cow hiring.

Patience is a virtue, and as Aristotle noted, virtue is a habit. The same is true with hiring; practice makes easier. There is seldom a need for a long wait to decide on a hire. That is wasted time, and becomes a corporate millstone. Google used to take ages to hire. Not anymore, but there was a time when it was years for their hiring to complete. It’s hard today justify such lengthy decisions, we’re not negotiating over disarmament.

Make sure your hiring process is muscular, not flabby. Manage it as you would your P&L- be clear on the numbers and measurements. Otherwise it’s a rabbit-hole of endless interviews, assessments, budget haggling. The people you really want will likely be taken by then, or disinterested. At a certain level, hiring is a romance which leads to a business marriage, not a functional arrangement.

Here then are some quick pointers on how to hire intelligently and with EQ.

Put more thought into the JD

Avoid the hackneyed as much as possible, but smart-alecky is too millennial, sorry. How about compelling, challenging and persuasive prose? If you can’t write such copy, find someone who can (like me.) Ask yourself and others involved in the hire what the role may look like day-to-day and in a couple of years, stretch out a bit. Make clear what is non-negotiable; functionally, inter- personally, cross-culturally. Know what’s helpful but not absolute. Construct the job to be horizontal, not vertical. That is, less constrained and can’t easily be outgrown.

Get internal commitment or find other interviewers

Draft a checklist of interview questions, make sure each interviewer has it and commits to the time. Winging an interview makes no sense for the person doing the interview, as it would for an ill-prepared candidate. Know your brief and give both objective and subjective internal feedback.

Make a decision

Don’t keep asking ‘who else is out there?’ beyond a reasonable time, If you can’t find anyone, look within, as it may not be the market but the way it’s marketed. If you have found someone you’re keen on, do your due diligence, formal or informal reference checks, psychometrics, and so on, but steadily, quickly. The blush of interest fades when good candidates see protracted hand-wringing. Hiring is not easy, but with a methodology, it’s do-able.

It takes the village chief too..

Candidates always leave an interview talking about how it made them ‘feel’. If you’re ready to hire, don’t entrust the final ‘sell’ to admin, HR, or an outside recruiter. It’s your hire, expend time closing the sale. Or better yet, have the CEO make the final sale. an underused but extremely effective tool.

Brand vs package

I had a Fortune 50 client tell a final candidate–whom they greatly liked–that they couldn’t match his current package, but his future with them was rosy. It was not a huge differential at all, but they were completely beholden to grade levels, unable to bring anyone from the outside in at a different pay scale than anyone else. He stayed put. No one should take a new job only for $$, but money reflects market value, not that complicated. Be innovative, and competitive with an offer if it’s within striking distance. MNC’s today cannot rely on their brand to entice an outside hire, too many start-ups nipping at their heels.

A take it or leave it offer letter ain’t workin’

I know this may sound trite, but I’ve seen enough of them over the years to suggest a small degree of editing is immensely helpful.Is it readable or boilerplate legal and 22 pages long? Does it briefly cover salient points and metrics and break down the package into bite-size components. Is it welcoming? Is your name on it or a stranger?

I once had a client who wanted to hire a sharp candidate.Their HR dept sent her an offer letter– with someone else’s name on it, and multiple errors. She redlined it all, returned it with her questions. Was told they couldn’t help, it was a binding legal contract. Poor HR is often ill-equipped, and in that case, no one from Comp/Benefits raised a hand to help. After a week of back and forth, she rejected the offer. Smart candidates almost always have legit questions. Allow time for it, and have an internal posse to help answer.

Be realistic about on-boarding

Most firmshave little time to devote to on-boarding.. A new hire will (if savvy) initiate their own on-boarding, and do the heavy lifting. But help guide them–map out the power bases of the organisation. Introduce them to people and explain the culture .Tell them the pluses and the challenges. Transition them into the role gracefully, confidently, and with a gentle but firm touch.

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