New Focus HR’s Newest Position
Obviously, finding the right person for the job is important, but is it really practical/possible in today’s highly competitive job market? Is having anybody better than having nobody? These are the questions New Focus HR faced throughout much of 2022.
New Focus HR has grown dramatically over its 13-year lifespan and has evolved to include multiple consultants to meet the needs of our clients. Over this past year, we realized a need for an assistant to help with much of the administrative side of the business. So, after taking the time to develop a job description for this new role within the organization, the position was posted on some of the popular job listing sites.
While there were high hopes of finding the right person for this new position right away, the need to fill this position came at a time when unemployment rates were at some of the lowest rates in decades, and competition for potential employees was (and still is) extremely high. While some responses to the job posting came in, they didn’t fully align with the expectations for this particular position. Although the pressure was on to fill the position, and fill it quickly, we made the challenging decision to wait.
Why Wait for the “Right Person”?
In Jim C. Collins’ classic book, Good to Great, he emphasizes the importance of, “First WHO, then WHAT.” Collins says, “Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.”
Collins goes on to say, “In determining ‘the right people,’ the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.” Kathi Walker, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Sr. HR Consultant at New Focus HR said it this way, “There are certain things you can train, but there are other things you cannot train. If they’re the right person with the right underlining characteristics, they can be trained on most of the essential duties and responsibilities.”
When faced with pressure to fill the position, Jim Collins gives the advice, “When in doubt, do not hire,” suggesting that, if at all possible, figure out a way to manage things until you can find the right person.
Consequences of Rushing into a Bad Hire
The benefits of having the right people placed into the key roles within an organization are, of course, endless. At first thought, it seems like getting someone… anyone into an open position might provide at least some of those benefits; however, organizations not only miss out on these benefits when they hire the wrong person for the job, they will, instead, likely encounter significant negative challenges, such as lost productivity, financial costs, low employee morale, and reputation costs, according to a recent LinkedIn Article by Casefair.
Some Middle-Ground Answers for Today’s Market
During an Express Employment Professionals Webinar titled, “The Vanishing Workforce 2022,” guest presenter, Ron Hetrick (Senior Labor Economist and VP of Staffing Products at Lightcast) said, “You hear about people ‘unretiring’ …and a lot of these people are in a situation where they definitely do not want to go back to the [40-hour work week] grind.” It’s about getting intentional with your message… saying, ‘I saw your skillset – I saw that you did project management. Can you give me 15 hours a week?’” If you’ve already preplanned a way to make this work for your organization, then you’ve expanded the definition of the “right person” to include a wider range of people. This type of flexibility may also help attract younger workers still in school.
But what if there is a job that really does require full-time employment of skilled/experienced labor? Kathi Walker, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Sr. HR Consultant at New Focus HR suggests perhaps reviewing the essential duties and responsibilities of those types of jobs to see if there are certain aspects that may be handled by part-time or less experienced employees (i.e.: a “clean-up” person to help a construction crew use more of their time for the skilled-labor tasks). This strategy may end up not just resolving a current issue, but also lead to grooming the next addition to your skilled job positions.
In the appendices of Good to Great, Collins responds to the question, “How can you practice the discipline of ‘First Who,’ when there might be a shortage of outstanding people?” by saying, “First, at the top levels you absolutely must have the discipline to not hire until you find the right people. The single most harmful step you can take in a journey from Good to Great is to put the wrong people in key seats. Second, widen the definition of ‘Right People’ to focus more on the character attributes of the person, and less on specialized knowledge. People can learn skills and acquire knowledge but it’s more difficult to learn the essential character traits that make them right for your organization.”
The person who ultimately filled that lingering open position at New Focus HR was Jason Love. He had many of the character attributes that matched up well with New Focus HR’s culture; and, while he didn’t have a wealth of experience in the field, he’s currently enrolled in a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification course, learning that specific knowledge needed to more fully contribute to the organization in the future. In the meantime, he is taking care of many of the administrative needs, allowing the current HR consultants to better serve the needs of their clients.
In many ways, finding the right person for an open position in your organization has never been more important and never been more challenging. There’s no question that this is a unique time in the labor market within our nation’s history. What’s not unique is the fact that creativity and an unyielding determination for excellence are still best practices for expanding a good organization into a great one!
For additional information on creating powerful job descriptions, managing compensation effectively, and ideas on supporting current employees while waiting to find the right person for a currently open position, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com.
Updated by: Jason Love, CLSSGB