Recruitment is a serious business. Indeed, it could and can be argued that the number one skill of an effective leader is their ability to be able to recruit effectively. Leadership itself is the primary cause of success in any organisation and, as a flat observation, how often do we observe the sad demise of so many organisations who have basked in the sunlight of one particular leader’s skill and ability, but this has not been replicated in depth throughout the whole organisation. Thus, upon leaving, chaos and indiscipline, in-fighting breaks out, and the game is lost. The organisation, once top in its field, now goes to the wall.
More even than that, however, appointing poor and/or weak staff to an organisation has enormous implications that are financial, reputational, motivational and productivity-linked. In pure financial terms and at the lower levels of an organisation, the costs start at about £10,000 and can easily rise to six figure sums at the senior end if the person appointed has to leave within six months of starting. Naturally, this outflow of embittered staff leaving so soon can become – if it’s a pattern – reputationally damaging to our organisation. Certainly, it will affect in its wake the levels of customer service upon which the whole organisation depends.
Further, according to the Pareto Principle, we can recruit people who are some sixteen times less productive than their more able counterparts! Sixteen times less productive!! Imagine what it might mean if even an average member of your team were to be four times more productive – what would happen to your business? And that is the ‘promise’ of good recruitment: it is about increasing the odds that we will make a fantastic appointment. Bear in mind that it was the world’s number one recruitment guru , Lou Adler, who said that the average recruiter had a 50% chance of getting it right! Think about it what that means: it means that hiring people is analogous to flipping a coin; that’s a staggering thought when you consider all the skills, knowledge and technologies we have – we can’t do better than flipping a coin!
Finally, we come back to the central issue of motivation, for it is motivated staff who are the most productive, the most engaged, and the happiest (they will complain less!). On that basis, then, yes, we as managers have a responsibility to motivate our staff; but before we get there, surely, it would be good to recruit highly motivated people in the first place? For it is a truth that the highly motivated are more likely to have the energy that all success depends upon.
The benefits, then, of effective recruitment should be very clear: higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, higher staff retention, lower costs, enhanced reputation, less wastage generally and fewer errors, happier staff and greater profitability.
But here comes the odd bit: we know motivation is important but we have no way of establishing, except through three elements, whether somebody is motivated or not. What are those three elements? Testimonial, interview, and achievement. But here’s the other odd bit: none of these three elements are especially reliable. Testimonials? Well, they can glow but how glad is the one writing the testimonial to be rid of this particular person? Interviews can be effective, but usually aren’t because we all have a bias to recruit in our own likeness, and we are not even aware of it. Finally, achievement seems solid, doesn’t it? Look what they’ve achieved, surely we need them? But here’s where the financial industry helps us with that famous strapline: ‘past performance is no guide to future… ‘ Indeed! How often do we find high achievers now moving out, now looking for a more comfortable and relaxed existence somewhere else – going to pasture, as they say?
And this is why the imperative for the Twenty-First Century leader and manager is to stop relying on psychometrics to recruit, but instead to find self perception inventories that measure the energies of people. We need to be able to know what the motivators are, and how to measure them as well. With these two factors in our understanding, we can make seriously better judgements about the suitability of anyone for a given role.