Organizational Success? It’s the People
Jeff Bezos, the wildly successful Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, recently shared his “three-step formula for success” with INC magazine. According to Mr. Bezos, “Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.” His first and most important tenet: “Surround yourself with the right people. If you’re going to accomplish great things, you need a team of great people.”
Unfortunately, the reality today in most organizations and leadership mindsets is far different from Mr. Bezos and likely the reason he keeps on winning. We have sat with leaders of companies of all sizes, industries and demographics to listen to their hiring and human resource needs. An integral first step of this process is to gain a 360-degree understanding of their business and culture. These leaders share and show with great pride and passion their innovative products, mind-blowing services, new equipment, new software initiatives, new buildings, forward thinking R&D and more.
However, what we find time-and-again is the most important part of a company’s success – its people – are not shown off with this same excitement or even worse – grumbled about. Their 80/20 Rule: 80% of their energy and investment in “things” and only 20% in the right people and talent that are critical to driving their success.
We hear you Jeff, but look at my shiny new toy!
The conversation then turns to the reason we are meeting: hiring a strong performer. Yet the leader or hiring manager is hesitant to do so. They want to pay below market and demand unrealistic productivity results in too short of a time span. They then complain about being burned in the past with new hires and want others to do this for FREE as “contingency” headhunters.
Wow! This is a major disconnect. You just showed off your shiny new and expensive “toys.” You beam with pride at your new building and all of the high-level consultants you paid to help you with these capital expenditures or process decisions, and all the potential results these fancy “things” can potentially do for the company. Yet, you now want to hire a critical role that turns that investment into profit as inexpensively as possible? We are not talking about just paying below industry compensation. We are referring just as much to the process of hiring that person, the continued professional investment in that person you are prepared to make, or even taking time to properly transition a new professional into the organization.
The “people” part can get messy
We get it. People are the most mercurial part of a company, and our personal life for that matter. They have a mind of their own. I can control my machine or software, but I can’t control the day-to-day decisions of my employees. I can’t just build them or set my “specs” into them and walk away (robots and AI aren’t there yet). Now I have to manage (note the keyword should be “lead”) their motivations, behaviors and actions constantly. People are a lot of work.
We’re not sure how to put the question to leaders or hiring managers more bluntly than this: Why do you try to get the best professionals to fit your company and culture on the cheap, but you will pay through the nose for a capital expenditure?
Why are you taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us, but you want us to “consult” and run the process for free until you “might” hire someone we present? You pay your software or your capital expenditure/process consultant hourly rates of $150-$500. You are paying your lawyer $600-700 an hour for legal advice. You may be paying your own executive coach $750+ an hour. Yet you are not going to invest in the process of hiring the best cohesive professional(s) to help your company win?
Again – we get it. The “people” part of a company is a challenge and it can be messy. But all the more reason to properly invest in them from the very beginning of the hiring process.
What to do?
Now that we have identified some of the problems with this approach— here are some proven solutions we see working today…
- Invest in qualified professionals who partner with you to lead your hiring processes. You get what you pay for. What quality level of hiring advisory do you think you are going to receive back by throwing contingency recruiting firms at an important hire, while all the while doing all you can to hire someone using your overworked internal team to identify that hire properly? Hire a professional executive recruiting advisor NOT a “headhunter” or contingency recruiter.
- Know who and what your company is and stands for. You cannot begin to fit a person into a company unless you are fully self-aware the of positives AND negatives of your company and culture.
- Identify more than a job description for the role. A job description is important, but it only provides the semantics and bare minimums. Take the extra time with your Retained Executive Recruiting Advisor to clearly identify at least (3) metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of what that person must achieve in their first year of employment. Be sure to make them reasonable. A qualified advisor will know how to help you do this.
- Be transparent in the process. No company is perfect, and no person is either. Be proud of your strengths and communicate how you achieved them. However, do not BOAST or oversell them to candidates. Be equally proud of your shortcomings and share them with humility when interviewing a candidate. After all, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t need them to address these challenges. Don’t blindside them when they are on board by NOT telling them where the skeletons are during the process.
- Have a real Transition Plan. Don’t refer to onboarding or transition as “babysitting.” Or say, “That’s why I am paying that person— they can figure it out.” An Onboard or Transition Plan is NOT hand-holding. It is a methodical strategy to integrate a critical hire into the knowledge, culture and resources of a company, so that they can bring that company success and do so by scaling their productivity as efficiently as possible.
Remember that once that person is hired and is part of your team their success is MUTUALLY tied to you and your team. It is NOT tied to the recruiting and hiring process at that point— that work is complete. This is exactly why investing thoroughly and properly into the hiring process is so critical. Don’t go back and blame HR or the Recruiting Advisor (6) months later because they are no longer involved in this mutual success equation, especially if you did it on the cheap without a strategic plan. You and that individual’s manager and teammates are fully responsible for the success or failure of the person you brought on board.
Remember— It’s the people!
If your company is ready to strategically address, improve and invest in the hiring of the most important part of any company – it’s people— please contact us today!