I think hiring is the scariest thing we get involved with at Sandler. That’s because there are three fears to confront. The fear of not knowing how to go about hiring somebody new, the fear of NOT finding somebody when they are needed NOW and the fear of getting it wrong. The biggest fear is the second one; the whole recruiting cycle tends to kick in when somebody leaves (often suddenly) or a big order comes in and everything needs scaling up, fast. Too many people get hired because the face fits and they are available. There is little prospect of finding the ideal candidate. Somebody who can do the job and can start Monday is about as much as most organisations can hope for.
In fact the fear of getting it wrong should logically be the biggest fear. The impact and cost of getting the hire wrong is eye-watering. I have seen estimates between 3 and 10 times salary. That’s a huge range and could mean anything from £36k for a junior to over £2m for a senior salesperson or director. In other words, almost regardless of size of organisation a wrong hire could be enough to close the business down.
Let’s look at that more closely. When a business first sets up as a tight knit band, the team has to be very cautious who they take on. Each member of the team has to have close to 100% confidence in each other; the whole enterprise could fail before it starts if one of the team is weak in their selected role. Fast-forward to a successful company future and for some reason that same pathological insistence on only allowing in the most trusted partners has gone, and yet now there is even more to lose. When the company exists on paper only, there are no clients, suppliers, or reputation to damage. But now there is cashflow, revenue, assets, and livelihoods that can be severely impacted. There is more at stake, but for some reason the risk of taking on a new hire seems less.
What are the costs of getting it wrong? Lisette Howlett in her excellent book “The Right Hire” sets out what they are and the list, which is not exhaustive, goes over more than two pages. The categories on their own give clear indications of just how expensive it is to take on the wrong person and then have to get rid of them. Hiring costs, Compensation Costs whilst they are working for the company, costs keeping them employed, opportunity costs, and the enormous impact or disruption costs including lost clients, costs of mistakes, poor selling and lost referrals. When you have to start putting figures against these, the cost of a poor hire is astronomic.
So how do you make sure you don’t make this costly mistake?
Hire slowly, fire fast.
Start recruiting now. Even before you have a vacancy. Get your people bank growing. Potential candidate will be happy to have interview practice and get on you radar for when there is a vacancy with you or one of your contacts, so you can be honest and invite people for interview without a current vacancy.
Use CVs to disqualify (not qualify) candidates, use psychometric assessments to further disqualify and only spend significant contact time with the remaining good candidates.
Have a very clear idea who you are looking for and make sure your qualifying candidates meet all the “must-haves”.
Ask lots of questions at interview stage. Don’t believe their first answer. Candidates often want to tell you what they think you want to hear (and they even believe what they are telling you themselves).
Have a great onboarding process and keep a close eye on their progress as they join the organisation. If they aren’t the right fit it’s not fair on anybody if they stay. If they are the right fit, they need supporting to make sure they settle in fast and become fully-fledged, valuable member of the team as quickly as possible.
If you’d like more on how to hire the best and how we at Sandler help lots of organisations hire commercial staff, then why not register for the webinar I’m doing with Shaun Thomson our UK CEO "Hiring ideal candidates - Putting the right people in the right place". Email rian[at]sandler[dot]com with the subject line "Hiring". If you’d like a free chapter of Lisette Howlett’s book, send me a message and I’ll send it to you. Either way, hope we can help you to make a good hire.