Hiring and retaining the brightest managers

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Rey Elbo-125

In The Workplace

Hiring people and losing them in a short period of time is always an expensive situation for any organization. In our case, it’s almost 50%-50% for those who resigned voluntarily and involuntarily within their first year of employment. Knowing this, what are the best strategies to reduce the chance of the wrong people being hired? How do we screen and hire the best and the brightest who will stick to our organization? — Water Lily.

A famous inspirational speaker on leadership is known for his popular public seminars on parenting, including a topic on “How to Raise Better Kids,” among other related concerns. As soon as his four kids grew up to become youngsters, he changed the title of his seminar to “Suggestions for Raising Children.”

When his kids reached their teen years, he discontinued the seminar with no explanation.

Sometimes, when we feel that what’s ideal is not working to our satisfaction, it’s better to move on to other things. In your case, if the trend appears irreversible and you keep on losing people within their first year of employment, chances are there’s something wrong with your screening process.

Yes, that’s right. It’s obvious that you made a mistake somewhere in your hiring process.

Reading books and even this article will not help in your quest for continuous improvement unless you distill the key takeaways and apply them in real work situations. After all, you can’t learn swimming by reading. You need to take the plunge. You must practice what you’ve learned, and then learn, unlearn, and relearn many things, including the lessons of other recruitment practitioners.

But let’s focus on what we can do in hiring and retaining managers and other key personnel with “hot skills.” For non-management people leaving within one year from their hiring date, you need not worry much about them going to other places. They deserve to fatten their work experience elsewhere. As long as you have a one-digit turnover rate, then there’s nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if you don’t want even non-management people to leave and they have the potential to become future leaders, then create and maintain a systematic management training program for them instead.

Now, let’s explore how we can improve your screening process for managerial candidates and other workers who are difficult to source, screen, hire and motivate. Here are some suggestions for you:

One, choose job candidates who are not in the job market. Convince people who are not actively seeking work to try their luck with you. Indeed, it’s difficult if they’re happy and motivated with their current job. But that’s essentially the point. You don’t want to explore opportunities with active job hunters or job hoppers who shop their CVs around hoping to find the highest bidder. You should only talk to people who have served at least five years with their employers and need a lot of convincing to take a meeting with headhunters.

A note of caution: People who don’t want to leave their current employ are aware that their bosses could create a situation with the help of a friendly headhunter in setting up a fake headhunting situation to test their loyalty.

Two, require managerial applicants to undergo written tests. This requirement may prove the determination of applicants. This may include psychological testing on leadership by an in-house psychometrician or an external service provider like the Psychological Association of the Philippines. Aside from a written test, you can also require applicants to undergo job-related simulations.

Caution: Some people may object to the idea of a written exam. They may have credentials that include at least 10 years of work experience, with foreign scholarships or a post-graduate degree from a prestigious school.

Three, conduct a stressful panel interview with top executives. Stress interviews are done to put the job candidates in an awkward and uncomfortable work situation. The whole idea is to understand how a candidate will react to a stressful situation under scripted conditions. This may include yelling by a designated “bully” in the panel of interviewers.

Caution: Limit the “bully” to one person who must be “restrained” by other interviewers in line with the script. Otherwise, the stressful interview could backfire against the organization. To avoid this, the job applicant must be fully appraised of what happened after the interview.

Four, do background checks of people in the shortlist. Some employers make the mistake of doing background checks after the employment contract has been signed. This is a waste of time, effort and money by an employer. If you can make the background check an integral part of the hiring process, then you can minimize the involuntary resignations of people who may have been dishonest with some information in their application form.

Caution: Organizations don’t simply give out information, particularly if the inquiry is done by phone, text or email. They don’t know you and they’re conscious of the law on data privacy. Better hire a professional investigator with connections everywhere. They can give you an almost complete dossier on the people you want to hire.

Last, do the onboarding process prior to making a job offer. Or even ahead of the signing of an employment contract. Giving orientation to new employees on the first week of hiring is already too late. The best time to orient them is during the hiring process when they’re given the chance to understand the actual situation in the organization. This includes sessions on the company’s culture, management style and values.

Caution: Test the determination of candidates by giving them the chance to back out early. Instead of convincing people, explain the challenging aspects, instead of relying much on the goodness of working for the organization. This is difficult to do especially when the company is hard-pressed to hire somebody. But it is better that way rather than create a situation where everyone is disappointed in the short term.

ELBONOMICS: Set free the best talent so he can freely discover his best fit elsewhere.


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