Recruiting reimagined.

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is oft-quoted. Using this as a benchmark, many small business owners fail the sanity test again and again.

To me, the most blatant example is found in recruiting – business owners continue to fall for the trick of hiring for skills and experience and leave alignment with values as an afterthought. (That is, if we give it any thought at all.)

Over my 14 years of business coaching, when the subject of recruiting arises, a similar pattern of response is evident: Job Description (sometimes), consider attributes required for the job (sometimes), advertise (without much of consideration of the medium or the content), interview (comparing the skills and the relevant experience of applicants), select and offer the position.

This is an inadequate, inappropriate and flawed approach to one of the most important aspects of business management. Consider for a moment – you have a small team to which you’re either adding or replacing and the culture, the environment of the workplace and how you serve your customer base will very much depend on the performance of your team. In this case, your new team because, as it’s been observed, when you have a new member of the team, you don’t have a new team member, you have a new team!

The cost of a poor selection in recruitment varies wildly with estimates for operational staff, up to and over $100,000. For higher level staff, it can be far more. Furthermore, an HBR study showed that 80% of staff turnover can be attributed to poor hiring decisions. The effects on existing staff of a poor selection are disastrous.

However, most of the small businesses I see continue to recruit in the same manner – with the same extremely poor success rate.

What if we looked at this process with a new set of eyes? Instead of the skills the applicant possesses and the relevant experience they may have had, looking at what type of people they are? How they are likely to fit in with the existing team culture – assuming it’s a good one? (Another subject for another time.) Are they nice people? Do they align with the Core Values of the business? (You have established those values, haven’t you?)

These people might not score as well as others in competency, but they’ll be easier to work with. And, because they’re easier to work with, they’ll be eager to learn and respond to training programs. (You do have them, don’t you?)

I’ve glossed over my preferred recruiting process here, because it requires development and careful implementation. But surely, it’s worth the effort?

Recruitment based on the best people – rather than their level of competence – is far more successful in the longer term.

To revert to the same (unsuccessful) methods looks, to me, very much like stupidity.

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John Matthew

What John Matthew believes about small business

That the owner has risked many things that others take for granted;

That there is no guaranteed income or reward for the considerable effort that is required;

That often, the family home is on the line to support the business and its constituents;

That there is a dignity and self-respect that is earned;

That entire communities would be better places if there was an increased appreciation and respect for small business.

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