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3 Deadly Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring

Co-Authored By Krisandra Parsons & Mark Demos 

This post is part of the Tech Tuesday series brought to you by NTEC.

When is the last time a bad hire cost you 3 million dollars?

It happens more often than business owners would think. Whether you’re running a small business or a multimillion-dollar organization, these huge mistakes can have a significant impact on any business at any time.

Let’s talk about the 3 deadly mistakes to avoid when looking for that next hire, not from an HR perspective, but one of common sense and culture.

As Profiling Consultants, companies hire us when they want to push to the next level because they’re stuck at a plateau. It’s like that last 5 pounds that won’t budge no matter how much you starve yourself or how many long hours you spend at the gym.

Other companies hire us when things have taken a turn for the worst and they want to get clarity on the turn around. So we’ve seen a lot of mistakes at all levels of all types of organizations. Bad hires are one of the most common issues we deal with when helping companies.

Why is it that bad hires seem so utterly perfect on paper and talked a good game?

There are a lot of cons out there and they’re not all in prison. These cons are dangerous not because they kill people but because they kill companies. They also kill morale, profits, trust, motivation, efficiency, performance, and the list goes on.

A while back the president of a company we’d worked with 3 years ago called and asked if we could meet for lunch. She, along with her extended family, was running an extremely profitable company in Plano. They had about 40 employees and were profitable every quarter. They had bought the company and had taken it to heights not seen by the former owners. The company culture is familial in nature and they have a “get it done no matter what” philosophy. They were just one big happy family making tremendously successful strides. They all liked one another, with only minor issues. They hired us because they were growing and wanted to take things to the next level.

We profiled their cultural DNA, which means we analyze each “DNA Marker” of the organization and its culture (motives, performance, talents, habits, values, goals, etc).

We focused our profile on their top tier leadership to give them tools to help them lead more effectively and hire the right type of managers and employees. They were growing at a rapid rate and needed the right talent.

Then, as we were concluding our profile interviews with the original team, we were asked to include a couple more candidates. The one candidate the VP was keenly intent on hiring brought immediate bristling to our profiling minds. He was cocky, condescending and full of platitudes but he was also a family member. He didn’t seem like he would fit in with the company’s culture. We had met guys like this hundreds of times over our career and has seen the kind of trouble they can cause within an organization.

We asked the President if it was too late to pull this guy from the line up. The VP had “shaken” on the deal on the golf course and had made his mind up. Keep in mind, this was family and she didn’t want to step on his toes. So the deal was done.

When we had lunch last fall, I asked how things were going with the company. She looked dejected. I knew immediately what had happened. We’re profilers after all (we predict likely outcomes), but I listened as she told the sad story of the demise of the company.

She said that the VP went ahead with his decision. They didn’t vet this big talker and all his superman claims. In fact, he had a pending lawsuit that followed him to this company. Since they didn’t take time to thoroughly investigate him and whether the evidence he provided was valid, the lawsuit claim now involved their company as well since he was their employee. This big talker, of course, never mentioned this legal issue. In the end, it cost them way more than $3 million, it cost them their company. It shut its doors last year and the legal fallout is still going on.

So here are 3 key pieces of advice:

  1. Listen to the experts. Companies hire consultants for a reason. Do your own due diligence, of course. But don’t brush off experts you’ve paid a lot of money to give you their sage advice. Don’t get swept up in a rush to hire or the “if we don’t get her now someone else may snap her up before we do” mentality. When you have a lot riding on a position, don’t be afraid to hire an extra set of eyes that can be neutral about the potential hire. Sadly, if our client had heeded our warning, they would have avoided this catastrophic hire.
  2. Do your homework on the potential hire thoroughly and methodically. Whether you have in-house HR or hire a recruiting firm, make sure it is absolutely understood that no stone will be left unturned until everyone knows everything they can about a new hire. Don’t simply look at what’s on a person’s resume and take it at face value. Anyone can put anything they want on a resume or LinkedIn. Look at all the hard evidence that either backs up their claims, or not. Does this seem like overkill for every employee? It’s not.We also worked with a private client that essentially made her full time work getting hired so she could find something to sue them over. We dropped this client immediately—we do our due diligence on clients, too.
  3. Know thy enemy: those who mean you and others harm. Chances are you work or have worked with someone like this. They are selfish by nature, not caring who they take down with them. As soon as you spot this person, take action, do not wait. Save your business. Or take concerns to management.These people are the same ones who drain businesses of everything good—and so take action and do so before they drain the business of millions.

Here’s to exceptional hires!