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June 13, 2012

3 key strategies for hiring well, not managing hard

For small business owners, knowing when to add staff is a difficult decision. It can be exacerbated by the lack of certainty with the economic recovery. To wit, my fellow CBIZ blogger Philip Noftsinger has written about the recent roller coaster cycle of small business hiring. For example, May yielded small business job growth after April's hiring index was relatively flat.

As we can see, depending on the month, some companies are stepping out of their bunker-like mentality and are thinking about the hiring process again. I have been deeply involved in helping growth-oriented clients with their expansion plans and can tell you firsthand that making the right hire is often more important than the decision to hire.

Too many companies fail to make impactful hires, and this costs them dearly down the road. While hiring looks like an “art,” in fact there is a lot of science and technique behind successfully bringing new employees on board. Here are a few keys to effective hiring:

1. Employ for tomorrow -- not today. An organization must first know where it wants to be in three to five years before it can expect its managers to hire individuals who can get it there. A common mistake is to hire for the needs of today only to find out that the individual is not the right long-term person for tomorrow.

2. Qualify on technical capabilities and use performance-oriented questions. Qualify on capability factors such as education and awareness of key technical elements of the job. Avoid only hiring people who have performed the same job in the past. Instead, identify the handful of objectives the individual needs to accomplish for the organization to consider him/her a great hire. Base your questions on how the individual would approach accomplishing those objectives. This is how you find future stars. 

3. Hire on cultural fit. Identify the key traits necessary for the individual to be successful in the role and consider each candidate against those traits. An example might be “assertiveness” or “team building.” 

In the end there are only two choices -- hire well or manage hard. Effective hiring requires more than these initial steps, but if these are applied, you will see a significant improvement in the quality and cultural fit of your new hires.

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