Hiring the right people at the right point in time is often critical to the success of businesses and construction projects. Keeping the ideal balance of staff levels in line with programmes and budgets are something that very few firms can achieve effectively.
Typically, firms are quite reactive when it comes to hiring staff, and the process can take a considerable amount of time.
First, getting the job approved and signed off, then advertising, networking, interviewing and conducting references. Then you finally discover that the quality of the applicants is less than ideal, and your top choice has some potential red flags.
So, what do you do? Hire them anyway, because it’s costing you too much money to have the position unfilled? Lots of companies will.
And its this type of decision-making that compounds existing issues, and one that needs to be re-thought.
Hire fast – not on a whim, but making good, informed choices quickly, and placing recruitment of staff higher on decision-makers’ priority lists. It’s having an effective resourcing strategy and making the selection and offer process as timely and efficient as possible.
Don’t try and low-ball people with salary and benefits. You look stupid and tight-fisted. In a candidate-short market, salary offers should be well-researched and informed, both from the candidate’s individual expectations and the local market.
Interview without a vacancy
Imagine if the All Blacks started a test match without a reserve bench? The best team in the world probably wouldn’t stand a chance against even a much weaker opposition without one. So, who are your subs? Advertising a role and interviewing only when someone resigns is so last century you probably put an advertisement in a newspaper for it.
You need to be proactive in this day and in this industry, and leaders in your business should be doing an interview every month regardless of if they have a role available or not. Imagine how fast the process would be if one of your team leaves, to backfilling that position with someone you interviewed 6 months prior. No competing against other job offers, a seamless transition and potentially a handover period.
Also, how do All Blacks perform when they know that someone is ready to come in and fill their spot when they are failing in their role? Keep your team accountable and performing by letting them know you are building the reserve bench. And don’t leave them in the lurch covering multiple roles because you can’t find someone to hire.
Treat people like people
Don’t try and low-ball people with salary and benefits. You look stupid and tight-fisted. In a candidate-short market, salary offers should be well-researched and informed, both from the candidate’s individual expectations and the local market. Many people will get a counter-offer from their current firm and stay there, or simply walk away telling everyone how badly you pay people if you try this dumb strategy.
Listen actively to their motivations and understand their life outside work. Then see if you can structure something that works for both of you. While companies are often worried about how tailoring packages will potentially affect the rest of the team, people are individuals and deserve to be treated as such.
Get your approvals signed off
If you are the hiring decision maker, then this should be easy for you, but if you need someone else to sign off on your hires, then remember that nothing kills deals like time. Nothing makes a potential hire loose interest like when a General Manager or Project Director is on annual leave and they need to wait for two weeks to get a signed offer to review.
In a perfect world, the budget for the hire should be signed off well in advance of starting any hiring process. The people doing the hiring should be trusted to do their job and make good decisions on who to hire, so senior leaders don’t need to be involved unless something out of the ordinary requires further approvals.
Stop the rot
Don’t hire dickheads. These can be people with victim mentalities, that push blame onto others, have negative attitudes, bully people and don’t take responsibility for their own shortcomings. Make sure you line people up with your team values and ask probing questions in interviews, such as:
•“Have you ever worked on/managed a project that didn’t go well and how did you deal with that?”
•“Tell me about your favourite and least favourite supervisors you’ve worked for.”
• “Why were they your favourite or least favourite?”
Save your team members from having to deal with someone who is toxic and brings down morale.
As a leader, your responsibility to your team is to ensure that you protect them from people coming into the team and detracting from a winning mentality. You will make bad decisions and hire the wrong one occasionally. Everyone does – it’s a hard skill to perfect.
But the big test is – when you realise you’ve hired someone who doesn’t belong, how fast can you get them out? You need to stick within the rules and legal obligations obviously, which will become more challenging when the 90-day trial period is no longer in use, but you owe it to your other employees to act quickly.
This will involve spending quality time with employees to give proper attention to their activities, attitude, and results. Then if these are seriously lacking, having frank conversations, on a regular basis to establish a way forward and act quickly.
A resignation is the simplest outcome in a situation where employment cannot continue, one that is probably mutually beneficial for both parties involved.
And if communication is managed effectively that resignation is achievable in most situations.
Where this isn’t a viable outcome, you may need to structure a severance package and bite the bullet that this hire is going to cost you more money to exit.
All within appropriate legal and ethical parameters of course.
Don’t let your company suffer by long waits for new staff, or extended periods of inaction for staff that are not a good fit for the company.
Take responsibility as a leader for the success of your team and your projects by committing to making good decisions – faster!
By Rob Sellars