Someone asked the CEO of Southwest Airlines how they get their employees to smile all the time. His reply was succinct. “We just hire people who smile all the time!” What if we never hired any bad employees? Hiring right is hard, but it pays dividends over the long haul.
A bad hire can cost an organization $100,000. I know, you’re thinking that’s a lot of money, but if we peel back the layers, we find it’s pretty spot on. Productivity, morale, revenue, and client relationships all suffer from bad hires, and $100k is a sobering number. It’s the kind of number that makes you not want to make bad hires.
Earlier this year, we paid a sales recruiter to fill an open sales slot. We interviewed the candidate and decided to hire him based on his attitude and perceived willingness to be a team player. Early on in his tenure with us we started to hear feedback from his co-workers about his unwillingness to go in crawl spaces or help with the work (all Livewire sales hires spend 90 days in the field). We chalked it up to lack of understanding. We pulled up with him and re-communicated his responsibilities. “No problem!” he said. We soon began hearing more negative feedback and decided to transition him early to the sales team. No sooner had we done that did we started hearing the same sorts of feedback from the sales team. A few weeks later, the new sales hire decided to quit, citing friction with his manager. We were relieved not having to fire him and potentially exposing us to legal and unemployment compensation issues. After his exit interview, my sales manager and I vowed to never again hire poorly.
Fast forward a few months. We’ve hired an outside sales manager who implemented a sales compatibility testing program and uses the same interview questions and process for all new candidates (no more of my “he’s a swell guy!” hiring methodology). Early results are looking good, and we have a set of objective criteria to use in our evaluations of candidates. Since we resolved not to make any more $100k mistakes, we’re getting used to folding most of the hands that we’re dealt at the phone screening stage.
Everywhere I turn I’m faced with the results of good and bad hiring decisions. Even my kid’s summer camp stands out. Each and every counselor greeted me with a smile and asked me if I needed anything. Every last one of them. Across a staff of 15, that’s not coincidental, easy to implement, or sustain without a good mix of hiring right and fantastic culture. The camp director told me he interviews 80 candidates for 15 counselor slots. Do we have the same hiring strictures or do we hire candidates out of necessity and deal with the consequences later? Too many of our hiring with sales and installation comes during times of overload and we unwittingly overlook pitfalls we would’ve caught in a down cycle. By engaging our hiring lifecycle the same no matter what the business climate, we remove the emotional urge to hire poorly (at least that’s the idea in a perfect world!).
Are you making $100k mistakes or sleeping well at night with fantastic hires?
Stay frosty and see you in the field.