10 Tips to Hiring the Wrong Employee – Part I

resumeJanuary is a month of frenetic action in an attempt to repent the slothness of December. A month of austerity brought on in no small part by December’s over-indulgence. It’s a month of fixing past mistakes with new mistakes. A month typified by resolutions (this year I resolve that my resolution will last longer than it lasted last year) and new beginnings. Perhaps your new beginning was to ditch your credit cards and start a savings account instead, prompted in all likelihood by the recent gluttony of December consumerism. Perhaps it was to turf your old wardrobe and buy something fresher, funkier, and fits the post-holiday curves better. And perhaps it was to finally resign from your stale position and move on to greener pastures. Which leaves your ex-employer going into February trying to figure out who is to inherit your old job.

In this edition, we look at the top ten ways that employers commonly fix past mistakes, otherwise known as ex-employees, with new mistakes, otherwise known as new employees.

If you keep on doing what you keep on doing, you keep on getting what you keep on getting. If managers keep on following these top 10 tips, they’ll keep on hiring the wrong employees. And you don’t know what you don’t know – so your managers may not even know that they’re following these tips.

Tip 1: Hiring for all the wrong reasons

A classic way of continuing to hire the wrong people is to hire for the wrong reasons. Some of these reasons include: hiring your best friend’s eighteen-year old daughter as the PA to the CEO. Poor thing – the world is hard on matriculants with no work experience. Or perhaps your nephew and brother are both in the job-market: after all, what’s good for Zuma is good for us. Maybe the suave professional with the perfect CV is just too good an opportunity to pass up: just make up a position and hope for the best. It shouldn’t take too long for you to discover that too many cooks spoil the broth when they don’t know the recipe, or even know that there was broth to be made.

Would you prefer to hire for the right reasons? Make sure that you have identified a job position in your business, and confirm that the post is indeed necessary and adds value to the business. Then hire someone with suitable experience and qualifications for that position. If you are only hiring a person for their passion and drive, or because they’re a family member or friend in need, or you feel sorry for the job seeker, or any number of reasons unrelated to the position itself, you may soon find yourself in hot water.

Wrong way: Hire the person then create the post and develop the job around that person.

Right way: Identify and create a legitimate post that furthers the business’ goals, then hire the right person.

Tip 2: Unclear purpose

What’s clear is that every employee in the organisation is stretched to the limit, and that a new post needs to be created and filled before someone reaches their breaking point. What isn’t clear is what, exactly, that post entails. Oh well, let us just hire the next set of willing hands and get them busy. There’s more than enough work to go around. But expecting a newby to simply walk in, look for stuff to do, and get on with the job is a rather optimistic approach. In reality the newby finds herself overwhelmed by the demands, frustrated at the lack of training because everyone’s too busy to guide her, and confused about what, exactly, is expected of her. She’s generally faced with a choice of doing stuff and doing it wrong, or not doing stuff and letting everyone else around her just get on with it. Because frankly, no-one knows exactly what she’s supposed to do anyway.

Creating a job title is one component of creating a new post. But what’s in a name? The post only becomes complete when the requirements have been identified. What, exactly, does the job entail? This question needs to be answered with certainty. Only once the organisation has, firstly, identified what duties are expected of the incumbent, and secondly, communicated these expectations to the employee, will the employee be empowered to do the job and do it right. The more comprehensive the Job Description is, the higher the likelihood of synergy between the company’s expectations and the employee’s expectations – ultimately resulting in the optimum output.

Wrong way: Hire a new staff member, then expect him/her to find stuff to do.

Right way: Develop a job description and duty list aligned with the post. Then hire the person that best meets the job requirements.

A good way to improve your managers’ hiring techniques is to spend some time reviewing your corporate structure. Every post should provide value to the organisation. A comprehensive Job Description, complete with expectations, should accompany every job title. Only once you are certain that the vacancy you’re looking to fill is valuable and required for the company to meet its goals should you progress to the next stage: finding the right person. And this is a process that comes with more than its fair share of challenges.

To be continued…

Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.