Employment Musical Chairs Is Never A Good Idea

businesspeople-0316Hiring is tough. And like a lot of tough tasks, no one really likes to do it. I have a suspicion that the reason human resources departments exist at all is because managers hate hiring, and some manager somewhere hated hiring so much that he delegated someone else to do it all.

But I digress.

Part of the reason why hiring is such an ugly task is because the stakes are high. Plenty of academic studies have attached dollar values to how much it costs a company to recruit, select and train new hires. Speaking generally, it’s expensive. And that’s why, if as a manager you’ve chosen poorly, putting the wrong person in the job costs your company time and money. AND THEN you’ve got to start the hiring process all over.

The bottom line is that good help is hard to find.

The difficulty of hiring and retaining qualified personnel is compounded by the fact that, in general, anyone who’s very good at what they do is either quite happy at their current job, or they’re so good that they’re 100 percent freelance, and are only available on a contract basis, which means that they’re not 100 percent at your beck and call.

And, as any seasoned manager will tell you, if someone has qualifications and is actively looking, that can sometimes be a red flag that the potential hire is missing a necessary piece of the puzzle

It’s all too common that job seekers who are otherwise skilled also have either bad work habits, bad attitudes or both. While bad attitudes are seldom fixable, bad work habits can. But that begs the question: How much time and effort are you willing to take to retrain somebody who’s supposed to already know crucial job skills?

One solution that I’ve championed for a long time is for companies to actively seek candidates from outside their own channel, and look for positive personal attributes: Find those, and you can teach them the skills they need. Unfortunately, that’s a principle more noted in the breach than the observance.

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Recently, in the past year or so, in one of the major cities in which I have accounts that I service there’s been a growing, and alarming trend among dealers in one of my channels. They’re all job-hopping. Personnel are, almost quite literally, playing musical chairs with their jobs.

When I’m visiting that city, every single day when I call on one of my customers I see faces behind the desks of people I know from OTHER businesses in the city. Not just salespeople either: No, operations personnel and even general managers are job-hopping too. All of this is confined to a single segment in a single channel.

If they don’t know better, an outside impartial observer could be forgiven for thinking that all these channel players are devoted to poaching each other’s people on a full-time basis. Perhaps they are. It’s gone on so long, and become so predictable that frankly it’s starting to feel a little incestuous.

The biggest advantage to hiring from outside your own little bubble is that it fosters the cross pollination of best practices and good ideas from other channels. If each of you in your channel, in your region keep recycling the same people, is anybody learning anything new? What dynamism or energy are those new hires bringing to your company?

“Synergy” is a work that’s been beaten to death, but a successful company experiences a real synergy, when everyone comes together to work towards a greater whole. Without that dynamic exchange, you have stagnation, which is an existential threat. And stagnation in your company should give you cause for concern.