Hate Firing People?
Hire Them Instead
By Don Schmincke
point, every business owner, manager, or human resources professional
has to fire an employee. It’s a fact of business everyone hates.
However, if you simply hired better from the start, you could greatly
reduce the number of firings you must do each year.
this: today’s executives spend a great deal of time altering the
content and processes of their business in order to enhance their
results. That is, they focus on such things as goal setting, planning,
and organizational structure (the content), as well as skills training
and development and policy changes (the processes), in order to see
their business improve. But by focusing exclusively on the “what”
and “how” of business, they’re limiting their progress. Sure,
they may see some short-term gains from their team, but when it comes
to long-term progress, they fall miserably short. Why? Because true
business results are produced by human behavior. So if your new
initiatives don’t change the behavior of your people, then you’re
wasting both time and money.
By now you
may be asking, “What does this have to do with hiring and firing
people?” Quite simply, most people hire according to a candidate’s
resume. They look at the “what” (what the candidate did in the
past) and the “how” (how the candidate accomplished the
“what”). If those two factors look good, then the candidate gets
the job. It’s content and process all over again.
you fire someone, do you usually fire an employee because of his or
her skills or processes? For most people, the answer is “no.” In
fact, when asked, most executives reveal that they fire people due to
behavioral problems. Yes, sometimes employees get fired because they
falsified a resume and claimed to have skills they really did not.
More often than not, though, behavior that is not in alignment with
the company’s culture or expectations is the real reason for the
Get the Right Fit: In general, the “what” and the “how” are
not the best indicators for how someone will perform at your company.
Good hiring is really about behavioral selection. That is, select
people based on their behavioral tendencies, not on their resume.
not to say that you should never look at a candidate’s resume. You
will certainly need the resume if your position requires certain
skills or training. But don’t base your entire hiring decision on
the resume alone. To hire the right person for the job, you need to
base at least a third or more of your hiring decision on the
comes to behavior, look for the following “fits”:
Fit – Every company has a unique culture. For example, Microsoft
is known for being relaxed and creative, while NASA boasts a
culture that is very process-driven and formal. Know what your
company culture is so you can assess whether the job candidate
will fit with it. Therefore, if your company is innovative and
focused on creative endeavors, you want to bring someone in who
has demonstrated the capacity to work in a creative setting.
Likewise, if your culture requires everyone to have high
accountability standards, you want a person who can adhere to that
kind of environment. Bringing a creative type person into a rigid,
process-oriented culture will likely cause you headaches down the
road and lead to a firing that could have been prevented with
Function Fit – Know the nuances of the position you’re hiring
for. A customer service position is much different than a delivery
position which is also much different than an IT position.
Depending on the position, there are different behaviors you would
expect an employee in that role to exhibit. Take the time to
detail a profile of the ideal person in that role, including
specific behavioral characteristics that person must have, such as
“patient,” “good listener,” “analytical thinker,”
“risk taker,” etc. Now you’ll have a written description of
what to look for during the interview process.
Fit – Past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior. So
if you want to find out how someone will behave according to the
tendencies you’re looking for, just look at the person’s past.
Looking for someone who can respond well under crisis, for
example? Then find out where he or she experienced crisis before.
Go back and talk to the people who observed the candidate in the
crisis situation and question them to learn how the person really
responded. Yes, this takes some time because you’re doing more
due diligence and detective work, but you’ll have more accurate
data for your hiring decision when you can find out how someone
really acts in a certain situation. If the job candidate behaved
that way in the past, he or she will likely behave that way in the
Fit – How a person responds to a situation that you can
personally observe is a good indicator of how he or she will
respond in the future in the same situation. Therefore, consider
setting up simulation events to see how candidates would act on
the job. If you’re hiring for a sales position, for example,
brief the candidate on your product or service and then have him
or her “sell” someone on staff, realizing that it’s okay if
the candidate doesn’t get all the facts of the product correct.
You’re looking for sales ability—how someone builds rapport
and overcomes objections—not his or her ability to recite facts
about your product. Likewise, have an IT candidate work with a
simulated client to solve a technical problem. These simulation
exercises are useful and interesting, because you can really see
how people behave on the job—how they interact with others, how
they process information, and many other behavioral tendencies.
Ready, Aim, Hire! In addition to personal observation of someone’s
potential “fit,” consider using one of the many behavioral
assessment tools available today. Behavioral analysis tools such as
the DiSC and Myers Brigg Type Indicator can quickly tell you how
likely someone is to act in various situations. Realize, though, that
employment law stipulates that any assessment tool result cannot
account for the majority of your decision making process.
behavioral tests and fit assessments certainly take time and overhead
to implement, the results are worth it. The latest findings state that
employee replacement can cost a company two to three times the
employee’s salary. So rather than pay for recruitment, training, and
everyone else’s time helping the new person come on board, invest
your money upfront to get the right person for each position. Why hire
someone you’re going to have to fire later because of a behavioral
mismatch? Always hire based on behavior now so you can stop firing
based on behavior later.
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