At a recent leadership development training program, I asked a question I regularly ask:
Knowing what you know now, how many of your current employees would you re-employ?
Answer – about 60%.
This answer is consistent with previous groups I have trained, as well as general employment survey research. It means that poor employee selection decisions are regularly made.
Suitable candidates are not being found. About 40% of employees are not performing well or as expected. In some way, they cause their management a problem. It may be poor attitude or interpersonal problems. It may be they cannot perform their duties properly.
Are sound employee selection practices worth the effort?
In time management programs, I sometimes cite recruitment and selection as a good example of the ‘Pareto principle’ – 20% of the effort produces 80% of the results.
It is worth a little extra effort to make a good selection rather than an average one. Spending the time to make a good decision is a sound investment. It is time well spent.
Managing performance problems is a constant theme raised by training participants. Amongst other things, poor performance consumes management time. It diverts attention away from more productive matters.
Managing performance would not be a major issue if team leaders and managers exercised greater control in the recruitment and selection process.
Employee selection tips
The following tips may help:
- Establish clear requirements – what is expected of the position, what are the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to carry out the position responsibilities effectively?
- Probe the candidates in a variety of ways – ask them what they have done/would do in a variety of situations, test their knowledge, get them to demonstrate actual skills.
- Consider how they compliment the other team members – what different attitudes and approaches do they bring?
- Make sure you are fully satisfied – a partially suitable candidate will only cause problems in the long run.
I apologise for listing such ‘basic’ tips. On the face of it, these tips seem relatively straightforward. However, doing them correctly is not easy.
For example, thinking about appropriate and non-standard interview questions requires some time.
Most candidates should have a coherent answer to:
What are your strongest points?
What are your weaknesses?
Behavioural questions are more helpful:
What would you do if …………?
How have you approached ……….before?
Interviews are not the only thing to rely on – there are other selection techniques as well (see related article below).
Summary and conclusion
The number of times I talk to managers and team leaders about performance problems, and discover that the problems existed from the very start, prompts me to re-inforce the basics.
Remember, team leaders and managers consistently rate their own performance (or their organisations) at only a 60% employment success rate.
Successful employment practices rely on getting the basics right. It takes a little extra effort and some extra time, but that effort is well rewarded. An efficient and effective employee saves time and contributes positively to organisational success.
A poor employment selection only brings problems and stress – even if the person leaves smoothly.