In the Hiring Process, How Fast and Cheap Can Be the Enemy of Good

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In any organization, an unfilled position can mean a lot of extra work — and extra stress — for the remaining members of the team, so aiming for a speedy new hire is an understandable objective. The faster you can fill the position, the faster the team will be up and running at full strength again. Right?

But what happens when that new hire just isn’t ramping up the way they should be? Finding the most effective way, in terms of time, money, and talent, to handle a new employee who might actually be holding the team back rather than helping it move forward can be a challenge. Should you buckle down and put extra time toward getting this person up to speed — or cut your losses and start over with someone else? Hiring new employees is incredibly challenging for every organization — that’s why they call it the war for talent. Recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding new people is an expensive and time-consuming process, and who you bring into your organization makes a huge difference.

Getting your hiring right is key. The first step in this situation is to engage in some self-reflection on your organization’s hiring process. How much detail do you include in posted job descriptions? How clear are you on role requirements when interviewing? How much thought and energy are you committed to for your onboarding and training process? Even the most time-sensitive hiring process should be manageable with a solid process in place. Rushing the process and potentially skipping over one or more critical steps in the hiring or onboarding process, may result in a serious mis-hire. In this situation, it’s important to recognize the company’s culpability for the misalignment.

If there are no red flags in the hiring process, the next step would be assessment of the new hire and what’s getting in the way of their expected rate of progress. A number of factors might contribute to this individual’s slower-than-expected ramp up time. Has he or she been provided an appropriate level of training and support? Does he or she lack exposure to a big picture view of the organization? Has the stress on the team resulted in a lack of strong management for this individual?

If the structural support is there, consider if it’s simply a lack of required skills — and whether or not the individual has the capability to develop those skills given the resources and bandwidth available. Exploring the root cause of the delayed ramp up will help determine whether it’s more time- and cost-effective to keep the new hire or release them and invest in doing the necessary prep work to avoid another poor fit. And while another job search will be costly and stressful for an understaffed team, another mis-hire would be doubly so.

If the best decision is to release the employee, consider if he or she can be redeployed to another part of the organization that requires a skillset more in line with what he or she can offer. If this is not an option, providing outplacement services to help the individual identify and target his or her personal strengths, skills, and ideal working environment will help them land in the right role going forward.

Most importantly, gather the appropriate resources your team needs in the interim so that a serious time crunch doesn’t jeopardize a thorough hiring process. There are options to get you through a protracted period of time without your full team. In the interim, you can hire a temp or contract employee with the necessary skill set. Perhaps another part of the organization can temporarily assist with certain responsibilities that would free up time for team members to attend to the more nuanced aspects of your business. Find ways to give yourself that extra cushion — free of time constraints and stress — to ensure that another round of hiring yields a candidate who will ultimately advance the success of the team, not hold it back.

Many organizations deal with this challenge. There are times of the year that are likely to create high talent demand for different divisions, and these business cycles might push someone to overlook proper due diligence in hiring. It’s worth evaluating how often this misalignment in hiring happens. Was this a one-time occurrence or do mis-hires happen frequently the organization? Something larger may be missing if this is a recurring problem.

Even if the organization has to spend more money on a contractor or temp, it’s a better option than negatively impacting company culture and brand with a revolving door of mis-hires and quick turnover rates. While a speedy hire may seem judicious in the moment, it’s important to consider the financial and cultural cost in the long run. Take your time finding the right people and ensure they are managed to succeed from the beginning.

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