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How not to Hire


With unemployment still so high, it’s amazing to hear that employers are clamoring for talent. The so-called talent shortage is a major topic at human resources and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my answering machine has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to contacts by HR folks seeking referrals to talented job candidates. It is strange that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest candidates don’t stay on the market long, corporate recruiting processes don’t change. They don’t get nimbler or faster. They don’t get less burdensome or bureaucratic. You’d think that employers hungry for talent would innovate, making their recruiting processes easier and more human.

The worst part about effectively useless corporate recruiting is the notion that the best-qualified candidate for a job is the one willing to climb over the most piles of broken glass to get the job. No wonder hiring managers take a person who is more likely to be the most-compliant—rather than the most-talented—candidate. We could call this person the Last Candidate Standing.

The whole encrusted recruiting process (not to mention unfriendly, robotic auto-responders and the unending stream of honesty tests, writing tests, and other recruiting hurdles) makes it easy for organizations to hire drones, and it makes it hard for them to hire the brilliant and complex people they need to solve their problems. Here’s our list of six ways that recruiting processes conspire to keep great people out while pulling in docile and wan candidates.

How to Hire an Empty Suit:

• Compose job descriptions that list all the tasks the new hire will perform, plus the long list of qualifications the ideal candidate must possess. (Don’t talk about the mission; make the job description as bland as possible.)

• Write a job description that insults the reader from the start, using such language as: “Only applicants with “Blah, Blah, Blah” will be considered. Make sure the tone is such that readers know your company rules the roost—and that he or she will be lucky to get a word in reply.

• Send interested applicants to a horrendously slow-moving and tedious recruiting website and require them to spend two hours or so filling out forms and uploading documents. For extra points, blow up the application two or three times while candidates are working on submissions.

• Throw screening tests and extra requirements at candidates throughout the process, just to keep them guessing.

• Take weeks or months to get back to people to schedule job interviews. At the interviews, keep them waiting in the lobby, ask them idiotic questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” and get offended when they inquire about the actual state of the team and the company.

• Finally, leave candidates in the dark while you prepare low-ball offers, and then send the offers via e-mail with a message that says “We must receive your acceptance within 12 hours, or this offer will be null and void.”

The off-putting legalese is the final touch that will come close to guaranteeing that any job-seeker with an ounce of backbone or self-esteem will flee, leaving you free to hire the most docile and compliant person, aka the Last Candidate Standing. 

Source: businessweek.com


Don’t Use Pay as Your Baby sitter


Have you ever used a babysitter? This is when you have someone else assume your responsibilities while you take a break and focus on something else. The babysitter stands in for you, becomes you during the period of your absence. Someone else does your job.

Typically we think of babysitting when there’s actually a dependent child involved, but it’s not uncommon for ineffective managers in the workplace to use the same concept when dealing with their employees. These managers seek to use the pay that their employees receive as a surrogate for leadership – for keeping those workers complacent, retained and generally “in line.”

The practice of manipulating rewards presumes that the employee will chase the money and will be happy with their lot, while at the same time not requiring much in the way of supervision, periodic direction or even meaningful conversation. The thinking here is that, if provided with enough rewards, an employee will act as desired in order to not jeopardize those rewards. The goal is to place the employee’s attitude and performance on automatic pilot while the manager is engaged elsewhere.

So far, so good. Not necessarily a problem, right? The red flag goes up when you ask whether these monies are warranted by either performance or business need, or are they simply bribes?

What are we talking about?

Scenarios where pay is used in lieu of actual management are easy to spot.

§  The Grand Giveaway: Where managers try to give away as much money as they can to as many employees as possible, not worrying overmuch with distinctions between individual performances.  The goal here is to build an employee’s appreciation of their manager’s largesse.

§  Title inflation: The promise of bloated and meaningless titles that distort organizational structures, for the prime purpose of rewarding employees in lieu of cash.

§  Over-rated performance: Play the good guy by over-rating performance during salary reviews. Culprits are often seen rewarding activity over results. So look busy!

§  Assured compensation: Take the risk out of rewards. Everybody receives an annual merit raise, everyone earns a bonus. This fosters an attitude of entitlement.

§  Counter-offers: “Let’s make a deal” attitude to keep resigning employees from actually leaving; a dangerous practice that increases costs and lowers morale.

What’s the cause of this behavior?  Managers typically receive inadequate training (if any) on how to use their company’s pay programs, so many use pay as a crutch instead. Spending the company’s money effectively and efficiently isn’t on the radar screen. They use employee pay like a club to get an employee’s attention. And once they have that attention, the manager is off doing something else – with the presumption that pay will substitute as supervision and motivation while the manager is absent – kind of like a babysitter.

Weak and ineffectual managers don’t actually manage their employees when it comes to things like performance direction, leadership, setting good examples and decision-making. Instead, they want to be liked. They want to avoid conflict and they don’t want anyone to quit. They want employees to get along, and to help foster a friendly team atmosphere they try to manipulate pay in support of their efforts.

It’s really kind of a bribe.

So what is “managing” to these people? It’s not about making hard decisions. Too often it’s trying to get the most for their employees, deserved or otherwise, whether the organization gains in the process or not. The manager is focused on their own interests, and is using someone else’s money in the doing.

Why it doesn’t work

Relying on pay as a replacement for management has a short term effective life cycle, at best.

§  Employees see arbitrary equal pay treatment as de-motivating to high performers. Why bother extending yourself if you’re going to receive the same reward as the guy doing crossword puzzles?

§  Employees resent favored-son treatment; the names of those who benefit for non-performance reasons willalways become known. There goes your morale.

§  No amount of money replaces the value of honest performance direction and feedback. Those with an interest in learning and growing appreciate the help.

§  Absentee managers lose the respect of their employees, who know what’s going on. Remember that employees leave managers, not companies.

§  While employees will take any money carelessly handed out, the organization will not gain because of it. So these “rewards” are ultimately wasted.

For managers who need a crutch to help motivate and retain their employees, to help them do their jobs, the above cautions likely won’t make a difference. Their goal is not to manage, but to get-by, to be liked by their employees and to avoid disruptions to their routine. This is not leadership.

But for those managers who wish to make a difference, who understand that managing employees is a challenging and rewarding role, abrogating responsibility through babysitting is not an option.  They recognize it as the opposite of management, a damaging practice that will not enhance anyone’s long-term career prospects.

Source hrmtoday.com