Have you heard the common complaint these days that there is a ‘lack of qualified people’? I am not talking about the shortage of tradespeople. I am referring to this highly educated country we live in being unable to produce qualified people for open jobs.
From where I sit, the problem does not lie with the candidates. If anything, the quality of the candidates today is significantly better than yesteryear. I submit the real problem lies with those who call themselves managers, leaders and executives.
Now before you call me crazy, I invite you to listen to the latest episode of the People First, Profits Second podcast. For the simple reason that I share in total unvarnished honesty, how I learned that it is not the people we hire who is the problem. No, the problem is we, the people, who do the hiring.
Today more than 70% of the leaders in our world still do what I did. For the most part, we have been doing the same things for the last 100 years. The sad truth is, I don’t see a huge change in attitudes coming anytime soon. Because far too many are locked into the old ways of hiring. And like so many other areas we have all seen, those old ways can be updated, upgraded and made 1,000 times stronger. If only we knew better.
It is time to change our thinking
So let me share some of the key things I learned with my own blood, sweat and tears. I find it fascinating that only a handful of MBA programs in North America are beginning to teach students about how to be better leaders. And these five things are in the curriculum.
- Focus on the values and personality traits you want to bring in. Clearly itemize the soft skills you put a high priority on for both your company and the function you want to beef up.
- Examine closely your biases towards the immediate competencies you think you need. For example, if the person has scads of experience in different IT systems and is a quick learner, you don’t need to find someone who understands your specific system. And if you really want some fresh ideas, DO NOT hire from within your own industry. Let go of these old and tired ideas to allow your potentials pool to expand.
- Ask for help. Within large organizations, most people have no idea what kind of help the HR function does and DOES NOT provide. Outside employment agencies and recruiters might save you time, but they can’t work in a vacuum. You must spend a bit of time upfront, ask probing questions, admit what you don’t know and make some informed decisions yourself.
- Consider using some of the new software available. There are programs which cost about a third the cost of a whole (minor level) person which can help you organize your values and job descriptions, allow the candidates to self-select themselves so you only get to see the top 5 of the hundreds of resumes you normally receive, prompt you with great interview questions and then help you manage some of the performance issues you are bound to have.
- Lastly, never forget the power of the colleague interview. Have two or three of the candidates’ colleagues be involved in the one-on-one interview process. Because every single person will find a way to shine a positive light on themselves with the boss and will always speak candidly and naturally to their future colleagues.
Most of us muddle along and never learn how to hire qualified people because having a good hiring process is very rarely tied back or linked to the results and outcomes we get.
- Sadly, that muddling seriously impedes our progress. There is no shortage of fine candidates; just a shortage of fine leaders.
To your success!