If your current cloning technology is producing mis-matches, maybe it’s time to better understand what you really need out of your team members.
When it’s time to grow your business, your team, or you simply need to replace an open position, how often do you describe the replacement to your talent sourcing team as, find me someone like <insert name here>. If you are, you may be finding yourself with either a longer or more frustrating search, or worse case you are bringing on a clone that is diametrically mis-aligned with what you really need out of the position.
Let’s explore the following Hire-Train-Grow framework
There is a term in the recruiting industry called a purple squirrel, and you find a purple squirrel when a candidate is perfectly matched to the requirements of your newly minted position. As the name suggest, purple squirrels are few and fare between so what you need to be prepared for is any number of potential trade offs.
Licensing and Credentials
We left this out of the framework title, but it would be a mistake to completely ignore it here. Notice, I didn’t say degrees or years of experience or prior background industry knowledge. We will get to these shortly, but we do need to start with the paper required legally to do the job. Many professional services have national and local laws requiring certifications to do the job; such as, real estate agents, public accountants, lawyers, physicians, etc.. If you have a position that requires some level of publicly recognized certification, its the cost of admission and anyone without is a non-starter for your process.
I think firms such as Southwest and Google have something figured out when they say they hire for attitude and culture. Its well documented that Zappos goes so far as to offer its trainees $2,000 to quit before being introduced to the broader workforce. This is clearly much easier to say then actually do, but once you have it figured out it can become tremendous strategic advantage to your competition.
How do you describe and functionally measure the attitude and culture of the individual that you want to bring into your team? If your list here includes the stock answers of “innovator”, “go-getter”, and “self-directed”…keep digging.
Think about some of the most complex situations your team or business faces, and then consider how that situation would have been masterfully handled. Describe it step-by-step and consider what type of behaviors are needed to persevere in that situation. Now that you have the situation clear in your mind, the key is to find people that absolutely love working through those situations.
Another great resource to dive deeper into various attributes is the book First, Break All the Rules written by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book is now over 15 years old, but it still carries some of the best thinking on the subject. If you are building a team or managing a current one, you need to go out and study this book.
This part involves the unique skills required to be a high performer within your team. Many times leaders make the mistake of describing this part of the model as experience. Experience is actually a combination of skills and the practice of those skills through the repetition of prior situations. We like to keep the two separate so we can open up to more possible combinations in our talent target pool.
You will need to sit down and think about all of the necessary technical skills required for your talent to be operating a peak performance.
Once you have your list of critical skills assembled, you will be organizing them into three groups:
I have no choice but to train for that in house
Skills in this group include company specific internal systems and process knowledge. Its not completely uncommon for firms to re-patriot employees from a prior time. Of course, you want to make sure that you are not compromising your attitudinal and cultural requirements in the process. This group of skills also makes a great primer for your future training program, but that is an article for another day.
I am willing to pay and wait for some period of time for this skill to be learned and developed after the talent starts
These are typically going to be skills where an existing proxy exists. For example, you are hiring someone for a position that requires simple to moderate skill levels in MS Excel and Powerpoint. Are you willing to pass on someone that is a perfect match in all other aspects, but also happens to be an Apple user and a whiz in Keynote with little to no experience with Microsoft products? The fundamental elements to consider on these types of skills are how much does it cost to install the skill and how long does it take to master it to the level required for high performance.
I am willing to pay for this skill to be already available upon hiring
These are skills that are so complex that it becomes cost prohibitive to do in house. You are not going to hire a software programmer who has never turned on a computer, right? The advice here is that if all of your need-to-have skills are in this group, you should take a second look as hiring for this skill might be exponentially more expensive than training it in house.
What you should come to grips with though, is you will be paying for required skills either through your own training program or in the cost of bringing in someone with the skills pre-acquired. Some level of cost-benefit should be considered as a result.
We touched on the idea of experience already, and this where we consider it in more depth. We have contemplated the behaviors and skills required to achieve top performance. What we need to consider now is what types of prior experiences, scope of responsibility, and results are needed to predict future performance in your role. If you are hiring a program manager to lead a team of engineers towards building a new technology platform, you will probably be looking for someone that has done at least something similar in the past. The trap though is that you may be looking for someone that has 100% “been there done that exact thing”. Most high performers rarely look for the been-there-done that opportunities, so what you may need is a high performer right on the edge of that required experience level.
Finishing it up
After you spent some deep soul searching, its important to bring all of this down to paper and share it with your recruiting partner. If its not written down, its lost brain energy and you lose most if not all of the efficiency in describing it to those that will help you achieve your goal. Take some time to create a document that you can share and refer back to when its time to make a decision on that high performing talent.