Cultivating a skilled, motivated and satisfied workforce is essential for the long-term growth of any company. Failing to organize, educate and accommodate both old and prospective new workers is akin to giving your competition a free advantage. However, as companies have been finding out recently, it is not enough to hire the best talent that is currently available on the market. What appears to be an all-star Employee according to his resume and interview results, can often turn out to be a liability couple of months down the line. In order to avoid this scenario, what is needed is a reevaluation of hiring policies and the principles behind them, in order to meet the changing demands of the market.
The adage “right person for the job” is often taken to imply that companies ought to hire individuals with specific, defined skills to the exclusion of everything else. The fact that the resume + interview combo is the dominant mode of screening for candidates proves this. The resume provides a list of skills and competencies, and the interview allows the candidate to express their desire for the job. If the candidate has the right skills, as well as willingness to work at a specific posting, he is the right person for the job, right? Unfortunately, this simplified view is no longer cutting it in practice. Skilled workers might turn out to be more prone to stress in commonplace work situations, or they might break internal cultural norms. To identify, predict and mitigate these issues, a more nuanced perspective on what is an ideal employee for a given position in company is now required. To that end, it might be useful to consider the following advice.
Reexamine Hiring Criteria
If there is one piece of advice any prospective employer should take to heart, it is this one. Take the time to analyze and define the specifics for each job in the company. This includes determining the required technical competencies, but more importantly, Psychological traits and cultural roles. Without a clearly defined, holistic idea of what a given job entails and the kind of individual would serve as good fit, finding the right people for the job is left to chance. We have already mentioned that employees who appear perfect can end up impacting productivity and worker morale because they were evaluated according to limited, unexamined criteria. Yet, what can be even more damaging long-term is passing up on candidates that initially appear inadequate, but then turn out to have been perfect. To find the right person for the job, you need to know who you are looking for, and to be able to tell once you’ve found them.
Test for Psychological Fitness Over Time
Psychological requirements for employment have become so ubiquitous recently that their usefulness is quickly becoming suspect. Screening for candidates who are motivated, flexible, prepared for teamwork, resistant to stress, etc. is not enough to ensure that a person is right for your job posting. Instead of focusing on generic character traits of a good worker, try to identify the specific psychological factors associated with a given job for a given period of employment. Try to articulate the mindset needed for teamwork by allowing the candidates to experience team dynamics first hand. Explore what motivates (as well as what doesn’t) each employee to give their best each day. Talk about long-term stress factors associated with a particular job, and offer advice on how to handle it. In short, make sure that workers are aware of the kind of psychological climate you are fostering in your company, and help them find the best way to grow accustomed to it. In cases where this kind of detailed approach is too difficult to implement with company resources alone, third party services such as Futureproofology can help you shed some of the workload.
Leave Room for New Culture Niches
As is the case in society at large, company culture consists of specific roles and identities its members assume, goals and ideals that contextualize the work being performed, and finally patterns of conduct between members. In practice, the culture of a given company is manifested in the kinds of water-cooler conversations employees lead (“I didn’t like that new Batman movie…), the opinions they express about company goals (“I’m glad we are working towards reducing our carbon emissions.”), and the identities they assume (“If you need help with getting your printer to work, and want to have an insightful conversation about cats, Mike’s your guy!”). Unfortunately, companies often make the mistake of requiring employees to adhere too strictly to some of these customs, which can end up alienating some of their best workers. The key here is to allow individual workers to integrate into the company culture on their own terms, provided they are not doing so at the expense of the company and other employees. An employee that feels accepted as a part of the team as a unique individual is more likely to stay aboard, than the one which has to force himself to adhere to an artificial standard.
Allow Workers to Express Themselves
Finally, don’t treat the criteria you have formulated as set in stone. You can only do so much in predicting what would be an ideal worker for your company, but there is always the possibility that you might have missed out on something. Instead of trying to predict for every contingency, try to open up a space for workers to express themselves. Often, a worker can figure out a niche within the company where he can be most productive, motivated and adjusted. Treat your hiring principles as guidelines or ideals, and don’t default to them if a worker found a better way to further company goals.