Lately it seems that when hiring employees we should never “hire” them. Instead, they must be inherited, acquired, or stolen. Let me give you some examples.
Margaret's application for the office position we were filling looked great. It listed similar experience from other companies and several personal references who all gave her glowing reviews. We interviewed her twice, made her an offer, and she was “hired.”
In the first hour of her employment manning the phone, Margaret disconnected customers three times and the owner twice. She also managed to send a fax to Peru and called the plumber to fix the copy machine.
She didn't make the cut.
Cindy, on the other hand, used to work in the office of a manufacturing plant that closed. Our company bought the facility to convert into a warehouse and Cindy stayed on while the manufacturer closed up operations and we took over the building. As she was required less by the manufacturer, she used the time on her hands to help us out. Soon we gave her the full-time office position that we had still been trying to fill. Cindy was “acquired” and continues to be a valued addition to the company.
A few years back, we wanted to add to our sales staff. After running ads for months and interviewing a dozen applicants, nobody really fit the bill. We just couldn't bring ourselves to hire any of the prospects.
Then, our owner happened upon an opportunity to purchase some assets of a closing competitor, and the folding firm's owner also suggested we take on the sales manager. The two owners knew each other well. They had similar leadership styles, so it followed that the manager would be a good fit with us. We acquired her as well as a support person, and they both are important parts of our sales team.
Another example of a “hire” is Ken, an installer who answered yet another ad we had placed. While he didn't seem to be a stellar candidate, he did answer a few key questions correctly—he stated a willingness to learn, an eagerness to raise his skill level, and a desire to be a meaningful part of the team.
After a few months we realized that while Ken was willing to learn, he didn't seem to be able to. Raising his skill level became secondary to getting him to raise his attendance record, and the “team” he had referred to in interviews turned out to be the dart team down at the corner bar.
Not surprisingly, Ken left us to pursue other interests before we had a chance to let him go.
Pete, on the other hand, worked for a company that we often subcontracted our installation work to. He had told us on a number of occasions that he was not happy with his position; he was concerned about his future prospects with the large company. He enjoyed the work he did for us more than the other jobs the company put him on. While we were very up front with Pete's boss and told him of our intentions to hire Pete before we made the offer, the truth is, we stole him. He's doing great with us, heading our installation team.
I am sure there are companies out there who can successfully “hire” employees. It just seems that, lately, ours isn't one of them.