The key to a healthy, productive business is to build a team of the right people and to make sure that employees are in the roles that fit them the best.
Companies commonly make the mistake of hiring employees for their technical skills and experience, rather than trying to assemble the best team possible. It is most important to ensure that new hires are great cultural fits so that they will contribute to the shared work of achieving your company mission/vision and stay with the company long-term.
At the same time, you cannot build an effective team if you promote the wrong people into the wrong positions. You need to have clear and transparent performance evaluations and promotion policies so that you can identify ideal candidates, help employees fill skill gaps, and maintain team morale.
Both hiring the right people and putting them in the right positions is necessary for a robust company culture, employee performance, and retention. While the stakes are high, you can make a huge difference through a few simple changes in your hiring and advancement practices. Let’s examine each component in more detail and explore some simple steps you can take to make sure that you are on the right track.
Hiring the Right People
Why Is Hiring the Right People So Important?
Why is it important to have the right people on your team? The fact of the matter is that employees are the life blood of your company and define your company’s success and its culture. If employees are a bad fit for the company they can drive down their teammates’ productivity, damage team cohesion, and cause retention problems.
On the other hand, being strategic in who works at your company enables you to craft teams with an eye for culture, collaboration, and productivity. This is why it is important to take a hard look at your hiring procedures. Bringing on new employees is a huge commitment. You need to make sure that your priorities in the hiring process match what you need to create and maintain a team of the best people for your organization.
Hiring Mistakes to Avoid
Before we get into what you should be looking for when hiring, let’s look at some common practices that cause companies to end up with the wrong people.
All too often, companies hire for skills only. When they see the candidate with the most experience and technical expertise, they fight hard to bring them onboard whether or not the potential employee shows any interest in the company mission/vision or culture. This is a critical mistake that is easy to make; most employers do hire for skills and experience. However, nine out of ten times the reason why they let people go is because they are a poor cultural fit. Why not skip the middle step and only hire people who fit your company culture?
Another trap that employers fall into is believing that employees will change. They know that the candidate is not a good cultural fit, but they believe that they will start buying into the company culture and taking ownership over the mission/vision once they join the team. This is not hard to do; after all, you believe in what you are doing and the culture that you are fostering, so why wouldn’t the candidate believe too once they had experienced life in your company? But the sad fact is that most employees simply won’t change and become a good cultural fit.
Even when they find the perfect candidate, many employers miss the opportunity to bring them on board because they aren’t willing to work with the potential hire to make sure that the job meets their needs. Even if you have a hard budget and cannot make salary accommodations, it is often worth it to make compromises on vacation time, remote work, and other quality of life benefits to bring the right people into your organization.
So, What Should You Do Instead?
The most important action to take to ensure that you have the right people working at your company is to put culture at the center of every step of the hiring process. Obviously, it is important to hire qualified candidates. But hiring people who are great cultural fits will do wonders for employee morale, retention rates, and productivity. Make it clear to candidates what your company stands for and make sure that they will buy into and add to your company culture.
You may be wary of scaring job seekers away by focusing too much on company culture during the hiring process. Don’t be, you want to weed out people who are opposed to your company culture. People who will buy into the culture when they sign-on will appreciate your focus on culture and the efforts you take to make sure they understand what it entails. If a candidate believes in your company’s values but is put off by how seriously you take your culture, then this probably isn’t the best person to bring on to your team.
Another factor to take into account is who you put in charge of interviews and hiring decisions. You want a “true believer” in your culture handling hiring. So, do not be afraid of bucking seniority to make sure the right person is in the interview room. Every person at your organization that touches the hiring process must strongly believe in the company mission/vision and be a clear representation of your company’s culture.
Proper Promoting: Get the Right People in the Right Seats
Why & What
As much as hiring the right people is important, it can be even more important to promote the right people into the right positions.
Emphasize Performance Tracking and Communication
It is important to determine how employees are doing so that you can be sure that you are promoting the right people. The more objective your advancement process is, the easier it is to avoid nepotism and other toxic promotion practices. Transparency not only allows you to find the right candidates for each position, it also holds existing employees accountable and empowers you to move people who are a poor fit for their current position.
You can drive accountability by tracking key performance metrics, setting clear goals, and measuring success against those goals at every level. By tracking performance in a clear and objective way, you can see employee strengths and weaknesses and quickly identify candidates for promotion.
Another important aspect to consider is feedback and communication. Objective numbers and goal tracking is great when available, but a lot of performance tracking and advancement procedures will still have to be handled by employees’ managers. Don’t feel limited to annual reviews to evaluate performance or give and solicit feedback. Try implementing quarterly or even monthly reviews, encouraging feedback at weekly meetings and daily standups, and asking employees regularly how they want to expand their responsibilities and advance in the company. Not only will you have a better sense of which employees are ready for promotion, you will be able to identify which candidates are right for which positions based on their specific skills and priorities by tracking their feedback and performance.
Also, letting employees know how they are doing, and what is expected of them in order for them to be considered for promotion, helps job satisfaction and employee retention. That means that the same strategies you use to get the right people in the right roles can also keep them in those positions.
How to Determine Who is Right for Which Position
Just as in your hiring decisions, it is important to promote people who buy into your culture. Your managers are responsible for making sure that their teams are run according to the company culture and that their team members see how their work plays into the company mission and vision. No matter how many perfect cultural fits you hire, you won’t see the payoff in an engaged, mission-driven workforce if your managers are not the best cultural fits of all.
When considering each specific position, it is also important to promote the candidate who shows a natural intuition for the challenges and expected results of the role. Some candidates may be deserving of a promotion, and absolutely ready for management, but not have the feel for a specific role. You want to promote someone who ‘just gets it’ and does not need you to browbeat them with what is expected of them. It can be helpful to consider candidates who have faced similar challenges before, and can articulate clearly how their past experiences relate to the position. Mostly, however, this is a less concrete component of finding the right person; it is often something that you will be able to feel out during the interview process.
Of course, you also need to promote people who have the skills and time necessary to take on the new role. Top performers may be overworked and unable to take on additional responsibilities. Other employees might be the perfect fit for a role except for gap in their skills or experience. In these cases it can be beneficial to figure out a lateral move that will enable them to gain the necessary experience and continue to grow within the company.
No matter how perfect someone is for a position on paper, they will not be a good fit for the role if they do not really want it. You want hungry managers who are eager to prove themselves, take initiative, and drive their teams forward. People who can come up with out of the box solutions and get the best results out of their team members because they genuinely want to make a difference. Within limits, look for the people who have been chaffing to change systems and strategies or who have started taking on some of the responsibilities of the new position within their current role because they care about seeing the job done.
We’ve covered a lot of ground about best hiring and advancement practices. Here are some key concepts to take away from this article:
- Hire people who will make great additions to your team, not just who are the most qualified
- Put company culture front-and-center in the hiring process
- Track performance and encourage constant feedback to identify ideal candidates for each position
- Promote strategically, again with an eye for culture but also looking at specific skills, experience, and mindsets necessary to tackle the given role
If you implement these principles in the way that you build your teams, you will see significant improvements in company culture, team cohesion, employee performance, and turnover rates. Your employees will be engaged in their work and in the mission of your organization.