Hiring And Your Comfort Zone

There are enormous pressures on hiring managers today:

  • For their company to grow, managers at all levels must fill their open reqs;
  • companies are increasingly faulted for not improving the diversity of the workforce; and
  • managers must defend any hiring decision that doesn’t work out.

Everyone knows the standard arguments regarding the difficulties involved in the first two points, i.e., lack of education/training and a severe shortage of skilled workers.

The third point is rarely spelled out: if managers hire someone from the competition, doing a similar job, who doesn’t work out, it is unlikely their boss will fault them. However, if the person is hired from a non-traditional source, with a less targeted (been there, done that) background, and doesn’t work out, it will usually count against the manager.

Even more deeply buried is the root cause: People want to spend their time with people like themselves, that is their comfort zone, and that is where they hire. Managers prefer to hire people

  • from backgrounds they understand;
  • working in areas in which the manager feels knowledgeable;
  • with experiences and education to which the manager can relate; and
  • with a resume that makes the manager’s decision look good even if the hire doesn’t work out.

The critical problems with this is that comfort zone hiring

  • shrinks the labor pool;
  • homogenizes your workforce;
  • creates skill gaps;
  • torpedoes diversity; and
  • undercuts retention.

How do you expand your managers’ comfort zones?

By elevating their hiring skills to core competency level.

That means that every manager in your organization is as confident of their ability to interview and hire as they are of their core ability to design software; or handle financials; or do marketing; or manage product lines; or sell the product; or support the customer; or run the company.

You wouldn’t expect them to “figure out” any of those on their own, without schooling, training, and mentoring, would you?

Why does almost everyone assume that people know how to hire just because they become managers?

If hiring is to be a core competency, your managers’ must be able to

  • Write accurate, reality-based, complete job description. A truly fillable req is one that looks at the intangibles (culture, human interactions, personality) as well as the tangibles (responsibilities, experience) and weaves them into a cohesive whole so that you can hire great people—fast!  
  • Screen resums – Screen quickly and still spot the potential jewels, whether from non-traditional backgrounds or with tangential skills. 
  • Sell the company to candidates – InterviewERs have to be conversant with all aspects of the company and completely honest when presenting the information to InterviewEEs.
  • Interview – Create an interviewing team with different comfort zones and the breadth and depth to really evaluate the candidate. Then use both phone and in-person interviews to simplify and shorten the process.
  • Close – Craft an offer based on the value of both the position and the person to the company; present it so it is accepted, and defuse counter-offers before they happen.
  • References – It’s best for managers to check references themselves. It is far easier to get real information manager-to-manager when checking references; that way, you can accurately confirm what you discovered during the interviews and find out the quality of your candidate—not just the history.
  • Post Hire – Know what to do between candidate acceptance and start date, and during the first three months. This knowledge ensures you  avoid losing the candidate, as well as shortening the lag time between starting and contributing.

When hiring skills are a core competency, your managers’ comfort zones expand, enabling them

  • to interview and hire great people;
  • with more diverse backgrounds; and
  • from non-traditional sources.

That means your company is well-staffed and the competition gets creamed!

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