We find it really hard to hire the right people. Help!
We find it really hard to hire the right people. We think we interview them thoroughly but they still don't seem to be a good fit. Help!
Hiring the right people is achingly hard. Just yesterday the CEO of a fast growing design business was ruefully telling me that he had worked out that only one in two of his hires was actually a good fit for the business. And this was despite a pretty hefty interview process.
The CEO went on to say that on a skills basis all the hires were fine, but in terms of personality and fitting-in with the rest of the team; well that was where the problems lay.
Hiring for cultural fit is incredibly important, in fact many of the well-known business thought leaders espouse the hiring of employees on their cultural fit alone (on the basis that the company can train skills but can't train personality). But that's not very practical for many SMEs, most have neither the bandwidth, nor the competence themselves, to train the skills. So SMEs need to hire for both.
The difficulty with hiring for both skills and cultural fit lies in the fact that while testing for skills is moderately straightforward - you know what skills you want so you can devise good questions to establish whether the candidate has the right skills – hiring for cultural fit is tricky.
Most businesses I come across have some sort of interview checklist and pre-designed questions for assessing skills, but when it comes to cultural fit they hope to gauge the candidate's character through their general interaction in the interview and to be honest, the interviewer lets gut feeling do the work.
The trouble of course is that if you haven't really decided what you are looking for, culturally, and if you don't specifically probe for it, you can easily get misled. How many times have you found the employee to be quite different to their interview persona?
So you need a framework for assessing cultural fit. And to put this together you need to be armed with your definition of the culture of the organisation - its values. And there's the rub. The findings of my completely non-scientific survey are that fewer than 15% of SMEs have defined their values.
Most SMEs think that values are fluffy corporate speak about "integrity", "excellence" and "customer service". But defined well, values are a powerful tool for any organisation. And essential for hiring.
More on values next week but if you can't wait, Tony Hseih's book "Delivering Happiness" on the Zappos.com story has an excellent practical section on the subject.
Julia Bickerstaff's expertise is in helping businesses grow profitably. She runs two businesses:Butterfly Coaching, a small advisory firm with a unique approach to assisting SMEs with profitable growth; and The Business Bakery, which helps kitchen table tycoons build their best businesses. Julia is the author of "How to Bake a Business" and was previously a partner at Deloitte. She is a chartered accountant and has a degree in economics from The London School of Economics (London University).