Five Steps to Fireproof Your Hiring Process
Hiring and retaining good employees remains one of the premier concerns
of the corporate world. Today is a seller's market; downsizing, rightsizing
and reengineering have released a flood of well-qualified, well-trained
workers to the marketplace. One of the major problems for the hiring
company is that these workers have also been well trained in the art
of interviewing - in many cases much better trained than the people
interviewing them. In fact, 86% of those hired by interview alone will
not work out for the company. So what is the corporation to do? How
do they attract the kinds of people with the skill sets they need to
succeed in the ever increasingly competitive marketplace? And once found,
what does a company need to do to keep these people happy and productive?
Five elements are key to successfully locating, hiring and retaining
good employees. I call this POSITIVEsm Management: People, Organization
and Strategy Integrated Together In Vital Enterprise. Years of working
in one of the largest corporations in the world and subsequent years
of consulting to businesses large and small have convinced me that few
companies do a good job in all of these areas.
All companies have people and some sort of a personnel department or
person to handle the nitty-gritty of employment - benefits, policies,
payroll, EEO, OSHA, etc. Unfortunately, many of these departments are
relegated to the role of paper pushers rather than people developers.
Instead of using these highly trained people as aides in the hiring
process, many managers see them only as roadblocks. In a time of tight
profits, many corporations find Human Resources departments extraneous
and outplace them instead of really looking at the organization and
pruning where pruning should take place.
All companies have some system of organization as well, from the traditional
hierarchical format to the newer matrix or "flat" management concepts.
Typically, however, managers are viewed more highly the larger the organization
they have. Managers on an upward push therefore try to build fiefdoms
within the corporation and to hold on tightly to their domains. This
typical bloat is what led to the waves of downsizing, rightsizing and
Most companies have some sort of a strategic plan. Business schools
teach that a business or strategic plan is necessary to run a business
profitably. However, many times the strategic plan is devised by a group
of executives on a "retreat" to hammer out the direction of the company.
Once the plan is completed, it is housed in a binder on a shelf and
never looked at again until the next planning cycle comes around. The
day-to-day tactics of running a business, the constant harping on the
"bottom line" and the ongoing pressures of competition seduce businesses
into focusing on the short-term pain instead of their long-term strategy
The pieces of POSITIVEsm Management that have been largely ignored
in the past are the last two: Integrated Together and Vital Enterprise.
As mentioned previously, most corporations have people, organization
and strategy. The failure of businesses in the past has been the improper
use and lack of integration of these three elements.
All three of the first pieces of the puzzle must fit together smoothly
if a company is to succeed. Day-to-day tactics cannot be allowed to
sway the corporation from its long-term strategy. Ambitious managers
building kingdoms must not be allowed to do so unchecked - nor should
size be a prime measure of performance or competence. Human Resources
professionals must be brought into the equation to lend their considerable
expertise to the process of organization design, recruitment, hiring
A prime example of a successful corporation that utilizes this strategy
is Southwest Airlines. The culture of Southwest is integrated throughout
the company - from recruitment and hiring to employee development to
long-term strategy. All are part of a carefully designed strategy that
continues to thrive despite increased competition. Employees crack jokes
on takeoffs and landings, the flight crew races to service the airplanes
on the ground - morale is high and employees are happy. Even Southwest's
clients get into the act - one reportedly brought a large brown bag
with food for her seatmates; others enjoy the camaraderie of the lounge
(two rows of facing seats at the window exits). Herb Kellaher, the Chairman,
continues to motivate and drive all aspects of his company from his
long-term strategy - a concrete example of People, Organization and
Strategy Integrated Together.
In Vital Enterprise
The last key piece is the one that will most strongly impact a corporation's
ability to retain today's employee. So-called "Generation Xers" and
even those belonging to the baby boom are demanding relevant work -
or they are leaving to find it elsewhere. Many of these employees begin
start-up companies of their own and are highly successful in them. How
much more the companies that previously employed them might have grown
had they provided meaningful work. Granted, some parts of the job may
seem like drudgery - how do you motivate a hotel maid for example? Look
at the example of Bessie, an employee at a large hotel chain.
Bessie's job was to clean the ashtrays by the elevators - the ones
with sand in the top. She would rake and empty them and then put the
hotel's initial on the freshly cleaned sand. One day, Bessie showed
a friend and me her technique. First she raked the sand and emptied
out the debris, then she sprayed the sand lightly with water, pressed
down the mold and then lifted it out. She said the water mist helped
the initial stay in place. Hers were always perfect. Once she was sent
to work in another tower of the hotel - the maids there said she made
their jobs "too hard." The hotel recognized the pride Bessie had in
her job and made sure to let her know they appreciated her efforts.
Even though hers was a pretty routine job, Bessie was made to feel that
she contributed greatly to the overall elegance of the hotel. As a matter
of fact, Bessie had been named Employee of the Month several times.
What employees want today is not what they wanted in the past. Sure,
the needs of food, shelter and safety are prerequisites. Beyond that,
what employees want is a challenge, an opportunity to grow, rewards
for work done well and recognition of their worth as individuals. They
want to be able to try different jobs, not necessarily higher-ranking
ones, so that they can expand their knowledge. They want to be appreciated
for who they are, as an individual, not just as an employee. They want
employers to recognize that to them life is more than work - that family
and playtime are also important. The companies that can meet these needs
will be the ones who succeed and continue to succeed.
Positive Management - People, Organization
and Strategy Integrated Together In Vital
Enterprise - is the five-step key to fireproofing your hiring
process. Following these key steps will carry companies forward successfully
into the future.
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