4 Steps to Hiring Brilliantly: Step Four – The Hiring Process Never Stops

Almost every exec and manager hires people – even in the flat organizations common today. Yet few do it well, and many put it down low on their list of favorite things to do. This post is the last of series of four on how you can – with some simple, common sense practices – hire well, get a great return from your hiring activities, and frankly enjoy a reputation for hiring brilliantly.

Some of the technical stuff of how to interview a candidate is covered in greater depth here and here and there’s also tons of material – some of it quite good – on the internet about the ins and out of questions and legal issues associated with interviewing.

Step 1 here covered a basic prep step – Be Clear About What You’re Seeking – that’s often bungled, and is critical to ensuring that the your hiring goes well. Step 2 here – Everyone on the Same Bus – covered the importance of making sure all interviewers were using the same common criteria to assess candidates. Step 3 here – Run Hiring Like a Business– covers logistic basics for talent acquisition.

The are at least two more little secrets about hiring people, and Elmo Angell knew them both. Elmo was the General Manager of McKesson’s $300M Cedar Rapids pharmaceutical distribution business when I worked as the SVP of Human Resources for that $13B business.  Apart from being a spot-on double for the Herb character in Burger King’s widely panned “Where’s Herb” adverting campaign, Elmo worked the least of anyone I knew, and consistently outperformed everyone around him year after repeatable year.

His secrets?

1. Elmo saw the hiring process as a continuum: the offer and new hire start was simply the middle of that range. Elmo put the same sort of thoughtful effort in Step 1 and Step 2 described earlier as he did in the post-hire integration and assimilation process. Sink or swim was not in his vocabulary so it never made it to Elmo’s MO: he invariably had a plan for his direct reports that ensured they got traction, feedback, and guidance for the weeks and months that followed their start date. While any number of others left new hire orientation to a few hours in the first week of their new role, Elmo made sure the new hire was schooled, mentored, trained and integrated over a period of months.

The result? Elmo put up front time into getting the new hire great traction, which meant that his back-end time, time spent in recovery and firefighting was de minimis because people performed well, knew what they were doing, and knew how to handle things. His staff was the gold standard for the field organization: working with them was just as effective as talking to Elmo because they were up to speed on everything – all due to Elmo’s smarts in the hiring process and the way he kept on engaging people after they started their job.

2 – Elmo also knew that the hiring process was ongoing, so he was always on the look-out for talent. While he had great relationships with his peers, he also took time to get to know people junior to him both inside and outside the his areas of responsibility. And junior staff responded well to having a senior manager like Elmo spend time with him: not only did they know who he was, but his accessibility meant that he got his pick of the litter when jobs opened up because people wanted to work for him. Working for Elmo was like going to school every day in the business, and a way to turbocharge your career.

And because he was with the organization for an extended period of time, the up front investment he had put into people just kept on paying dividends, as people sought out the chance to work for him.

So that’s it: 4 simple things that you can do to hire brilliantly. Keep hiring!

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive and team coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above.