Stop, look and listen…before you recruit
When someone hands in their notice, it is easy to feel the seductive pull of just hiring a direct replacement. Often we see managers reaching for recruitment by replication, but it is worth resisting the urge and taking a bit of time to consider, even when the time pressure is very real. We have hit upon this idea of a green cross code before recruitment as we want to instil the idea that the threshold of recruitment is a very important one within a business. It does have dangers associated with it and is key to getting you where you want to go. So before I completely overextend the road-crossing analogy…what do I mean?
That moment where you have a hole in your company that has newly appeared is a great opportunity which can be harnessed. It is an opportunity to review what you have in place already. Who are the people that work nearest the vacancy, either within the same team or with a similar skill-set? Are they happy at the moment? Would they like a change? Could part of the available project be work they would like to take on to help them develop? It does not have to be an onerous process to have either formal or informal conversations with potentially interested parties to see whether a team could be re-organised, or someone given a new opportunity. The very act of having these conversations with the team and listening to them will be appreciated. It can also help give people a sense of ownership over their jobs. Clearly what claims an employee makes must be genuinely listened to else there is no point asking the questions. But if a manager is willing to ask the questions and act on reasonable requests, the greater dialogue alone will help create ownership and support of the vacancy that emerges from the team.
This is also true when creating a new position. We often see managers attempting to do this in isolation; they have pieces of work here and there which need dealing with, or an area of their job they are desperate to delegate and so form a job out of these parts. Your existing employees are your best and most accurate ready-made pool of knowledge about your business. Those on the ground will have a view of what needs to happen. When creating a new position, if you pause and have either scheduled or piecemeal chats with those that could be affected by the new position then you will undoubtedly learn useful information to feed into the process. You may find out career aims you didn’t know about. You may observe something about the work-flow that was hidden to you before. It may just be that you ask around and get complete reinforcement and validation for the hire you want to make, in which case you have lost nothing and gained the respect and loyalty of your team by involving them and taking them with you as the business grows.
Talking or consulting is even more important if you are contemplating introducing a new layer of management or a new management position. The efforts you make in spending time getting the team on board with the need for that position will be repaid many times over by avoiding your existing employees getting resentful and leaving because they feel over-looked or unappreciated. The handling or mishandling of these critical moments when a business is about to recruit is either an opportunity to galvanise and energise the existing workforce, or the sowing of some poisonous seeds, which you do not want to take root.
When this process is done right, we have seen the existing team flourish with the new chances they have been given. We have seen it head-off future management problems, as it is yet another way to give employees a chance to voice their concerns. In essence it is a chance to show that you haven’t forgotten or taken for granted those you already have. We also find this more thorough approach tends to produce more accurate and well-thought out job descriptions as issues like two work areas being lumped together for apparent convenience get tested against those in the know – the employees. If a manager is truly listening and observing then the inconsistencies or potential difficulties get ironed out.
So before you even think of knocking up a job description, our advice would be to stop, look and listen. This pause, observe and engage process provides checks and balances and means you feed in as much good quality information as possible into the recruitment process. Ultimately your hiring will then be accurate, needed, well-organised and well-supported internally. The small amount of time you commit to the green cross code of recruitment will give you much greater odds of not having to repeat the exercise anytime soon.