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Hire Tough to Manage Easy and the Rule of Three

As the economy slowly picks up, employee turnover will rise.  If you have highly skilled, in-demand workers, the poaching will begin, especially if they have Internet or electronic marketing experience.  (This recently happened to us.)  You will also see unhappy employees leave – you may not have even known they were unhappy, or realize that you contributed to their unhappiness. A poor economy means one thing:  people are afraid to move and therefoe turnover rates decrease.  So, as the economy picks up, you better be ready to fill positions.

When someone leaves a critical position, our instinct is to fill it fast.  This is very, very bad.  It is like emotional intelligence.  Our brains are wired for fight or flight to handle difficult situations.  In the business world neither of these works. To be successful you need strong emotional intelligence to counteract your limbic reaction, and to use your cognitive skills to find a more appropriate reaction.  The same is true when hiring after a critical loss:  Control the initial reaction to grab the first person you come across and write up a plan instead.

Here are the parts of the plan as I see it:

  1. Double how long you initially expect the hiring process to take.  If you think it will take six weeks, expect 12.
  2. Seek help.  Recruiters and placement firms can be powerful partners in your process.
  3. Make sure you are up-to-date on what the position does and what you expect in return in the position. Rewrite the position description based on expected outcomes.
  4. Ensure you have carved out time on your schedule to review resumes, conduct interviews, follow up, check references, and finally, negotiate.

Now wrap around all four parts with “Hire Tough to Manage Easy” and the rule of three.  You need to take the time, effort, energy and discipline to find the “right” person for the position. If you do this, managing that person will be significantly easier.  You do not want to go through a three or four month hiring process, all the while dealing with the extra work load, just to find that you’ve hired in vain. In other words, you just wasted all that time and hired someone who doesn’t fit in with your team, thought the job was different than what it actually is, or can’t do the job. All of these things can lead to another job opening for the same position within six months, and even one year of lost productivity.

The rule of three ties directly into this. For each position you are hiring, you need to winnow your candidate list to three people you think are great for the job. From there, you need three other people in your organization to interview each of them. Who should these interviewers be? People who currently holds the responsibilities of that position, will work close with this person, you trust and respect, or is from HR. In addition, your boss may want to interview this person, but don’t count her/him as one of the three.  Yes, this will be difficult and time consuming, but it will give you a much broader and detailed look at the candidates than what you could possibly do on your own. The key is to empower yourself with as much information about your candidates you can possibly get.  Even with a careful process, there is the possibility of failure, BUT it reduces the risk of failure by a significant amount.

I mentioned before recruiting and placement firms can be incredibly helpful with your hiring plan. In following the rule of three, one of the biggest challenges is building a pipeline of candidates large enough to find the precious few. There are a few guidelines to follow when using these services:

  1. Contract with one of these firms before you ever start looking.
  2. Make sure their commission is paid by you and not the candidate. You want a buyer’s agent – not a seller’s!!!
  3. There is nothing wrong with using multiple firms in a search.  Do not sign up for an exclusive arrangement, and never let someone talk you out of looking yourself.
  4. You can expect to pay a 10 to 20% fee based on the first year’s salary.  This will come out either as a bulk amount or, if you are temporary-to-hire, it will be part of the margin in the hourly fee.
  5. On top of the fee you want to look at the guarantee.  Most firms will give you a 90 day guarantee.  Meaning you have 90 days from time of hire to get your money back if the candidate doesn’t work out.  This is an industry standard for high based salaried account managers or directors/executives. You can negotiate a six month guarantee and that guarantee is critical.

In following the hire tough rule, you must make sure candidates know what is expected of them before they take the position.  The traditional position description is NOT a good tool to show this.  It is basically a laundry list of duties with no understanding of what takes priority and what the expectations are.

Below is an example of utilizing the expected outcomes to build a position description:

Expected outcomes/Key results areas

Book $60K+ in monthly public seat sales in assigned territory

Tasks to achieve key result area

  • Follow up on all leads generated by all marketing activities within territory
  • Build, own and grow relationships with customers
  • Manage pipeline and report on it weekly
  • Maintain sales activity in Goldmine CRM database
  • Sell horizontally and vertically in past attendee companies in territory
  • Cold call to build suspect database, minimum goal of 100 new names each month

Collect and enter at least 100 new prospects into Goldmine CRM system each month from sales territory

Tasks to achieve results

  • Cold call smartly into sales territory
  • Work with marketing to develop lead generation (suspecting) strategies
  • Select call time (A time) and plan daily call volume to ensure metric is made
  • Set strategy for call activity including script and territory to call into
  • Report on new suspects daily

Make at least 200 calls a week

Tasks to achieve result

  • Plan daily activates
  • Select “A” time and “B” time each day (“A” time is calling time “B” time is admin work)
  • Plan to make customer call backs from prior classes weekly
  • Plan to make cold calls daily
  • Report on call volume daily

The position is given three major expected outcomes/key results, and tied to each are the associated tasks that someone in this position does to achieve those results.  A candidate can quickly and easily see what is expected and know what he/she will be doing.

Hiring tough to manage easy isn’t easy, but it will ensure increased productivity and decreased turnover in the long run.

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