Despite being repeated thousand times, hiring processes are still quite imperfect. Of course there are many places in which this is done in a sophisticated way, and, indeed, there are Search Firms which do a good job. However it is still amazing to see how in sophisticated places, with sophisticated processes and helped by sophisticated search firms, still we get it wrong. Define wrong? Simple. The person disappears just after months of joining and after an initial hyperactive, exciting and apparently successful honeymoon.
Why? Who is to blame? The candidate? The search firm? HR? Management?
Lets say that the candidate is (as it is often) selected on the basis of ‘been there, done that’, good credentials, the infamous track record, the background on some well known brands and other elements of ‘fitness’. Let’s say that he or she has added a pinch of charisma in the interviews, has become likeable at the door, and everybody is looking forward to ‘the addition to the team’. All this does not ensure that the person will navigate well in that particular culture. OK, you thought you did articulate the expectations well, and perhaps you did. It does not mean that the candidate heard you.
One of the most painful situations is the one when the candidate goes from a big firm to a small one. The attraction of the offering is perhaps precisely the attraction of the small entrepreneurial flavour, the ability to make a difference, to count, perhaps to be hands on. That you have preached the benefits and the candidate have preached back to you his amazing interest and the discovery of ‘just that place he was looking for’, do not guarantee fitness. Often, when the day to day reality kicks in, and the candidate’s mind is looking for a support system that does not exist (but we told him) and is confronted with urgency that is greater than ever lived before (but we told him), amber lights turn red lights and the smell of fire is al over the place.
Also, then, the candidate does not quite understand why the lines of command and control have gone fishing (but we told him). Instead of having to deal with less people and interfaces, as expected, (well, you are small, are you?) it turns out that he has to deal with more people than in the big company because the lines of accountability are not in the map. Nope. You figure it out my friend. (But we told him that networking here is not an evening with cocktails).
It ends in tears.
When we help small(er) enterprises with onboarding of new people, we do a lot of ‘simulations’ where we do test real scenarios that may/will take place in days of weeks, where, perhaps, clarity does not exist, exquisite navigation is needed and outcomes come more from relationships than processes. Yes, messy. But early time spent in the simulator, helps avoiding real crashes in the highway.
Even people with good social skills in a big company may be unable to navigate in a smaller one.
There is no magic bullet but we need to obsessively pay attention to culture and imagine the candidate navigating, not doing a job or performing a role, or bringing in a set of skills.
Behavioural recruitment, as we practice it, helps, since the best prediction of behaviours is past behaviours. We are not talking skills or competences, but, again, navigating cultures.
As a writer of Fortune magazine said many years go, I seem to remember, if a 100000 dollar piece of equipment disappears form the company, it will be a thorough investigation. If a 100000 dollar executive leaves, we call it ‘that’s life’. If he leaves just after 6 months, we scratch our head.