Taking The Guesswork Out Of Hiring And Promoting


One of the most important topics for any manager or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is that of procuring and promoting staff.

1.            Definition of the Process

Selection, recruitment and promotion are a series of processes used by organisations to identify the most qualified and suitable persons for a particular job or series of jobs.  Yet, in most organisations, this whole activity is done particularly badly for many reasons including:  there are lack of qualified applicants; existing processes themselves are inappropriate; existing processes lack reliability and validity to identify the best people; organisation politics; job mismatch and consequent low morale; lack of trained managers to effectively utilise the processes; over-reliance on external selection and recruitment consultants with mixed results; cost of the process; and lack of precise technological tools to predict job success.  These factors dampen enthusiasm and commitment to these processes which are so important.

2.            Importance of the Processes

There are many reasons why these processes are important.

2.1            Investment in Staff

Most organisations employ staff for long periods of time ranging from five years to fifty years duration.  The overall cost to an organisation for a staff member could be as little as $175,000 and as much as $1.75 million ($25,000 a year salary and on costs).  Despite this huge cost, many organisations invest little or no money in selecting the right people to get the best return for the investment made.

2.2            Reduced Cost of Turnover

Few organisations know how much it costs to replace staff members if they leave after only a short period of time.  The investment is huge in time and money.  One sales organisation that I am familiar with, puts the cost of replacing staff in the first few months to be between $4000 and $15,000 per person.

2.3            Avoiding the loss of Customers

Two of the most important questions that you can ask are:  What effect will hiring the wrong person have on my customers?  What potential long-term damage will be done to my customers by poorly motivated staff?  Research shows that it is five times cheaper to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one.  Recruitment, selecting and promoting the right staff is absolutely essential if you are going to stay in business long term because everything starts and ends with the customer.  Everything therefore starts and ends with having the right staff in the right job to provide excellent customer service and maintain profitability.

2.4            Ensuring a motivated workforce

Apart from customers, what happens if an inappropriate staff member is selected for a management or supervisory position in your company?  The outcome could cost the organisation dearly by demotivating employees under that person’s control.

Yet many CEOs and senior managers tolerate this situation because of some imagined short‑term benefit from these poorly selected managers.  Yet, this is not true because the long term losses will far outweigh any possible short term gain.  Apart from the loss of good people, examine the effect on productivity and safety when staff are unhappy, frustrated or feel threatened by inappropriate managers.  Results from Management Assessment Centres indicate that one third of all candidates for managerial promotion failed the selection process.

We need tough mindedness in Australian organisations to enable long‑term viability and to keep our best staff.

2.5            Investing training dollars wisely

It is very true to say that if you select ducks, then no amount of training or time will turn them into eagles.  They are ducks and will perform as ducks!  If you wanted eagles, then you should have selected eagles.  This is a real problem in both private and public organisations.  I believe that huge fortunes are being squandered on training poorly selected staff with the main hope that somehow through the panacea of training they will be transformed from being an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan or even an eagle.  We know, of course, that this approach is doomed to failure.  If you have got the right people in the right jobs, then spending training dollars is an investment in your future and their future success.

2.6            Developing adequate succession planning

I am constantly amazed at the range of issues confronting CEOs today.  One of the key issues is the lack of a strong second line of managers reporting to the CEO.  It is crucial that any CEO build a strong team of excellent people to provide for management succession at all levels.

3.            Common Mistakes Made

There are many pitfalls and potential mistakes for the novice and uninitiated.  Many organisations take the easy quick-fix solution to ease the pain of waiting to fill a vacancy because of the pressure of the treadmill of operations.  There may be other issues in the culture of the organisation that have to be addressed before filling a vacant position.  What would happen if you didn’t fill the position?  Alternatively, what would happen to your company if you replaced your least effective employee with someone as effective as you?

Some other mistakes:

1.            Promoting the best salesperson to sales manager.

2.            Assuming that the best sales representative at your competitor will be the best sales representative at your company.

3.            Relying on references you haven’t checked.

4.            Hiring someone who is over qualified.

5.            Evaluating the individual’s honesty and personality after selecting or promoting them.

6.            Appointing people to important positions without fair, equitable, accessible processes.

7.            Training someone who has no chance of being successful in a job.

8.            Delegating responsibility before checking the individual’s abilities.

9.            Failing to develop and use appropriate documented and valid selection, recruitment and promotion procedures.

10.            Relying on external selection and recruitment consultants without empowering and upgrading your own staff’s competence in selection and recruitment.

In this article the importance of the processes of selection, recruitment and promotion have been considered. Lists of common mistakes have been listed. The important thing for any business is to ensure that a validated reliable systematic process of selection, recruitment and promotion is in place to avoid the mistakes commonly made.