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Regardless of whether you run a small business, a nonprofit organization, or a large corporation, having the right people on your team is paramount to your company’s success. In fact, hiring people is one of the top, if not THE top, financial investments any business can make.

According to The Harvard Business Review, poor hiring decisions cause 80 percent of employee turnover, and the cost to replace an employee is 2.5 times the individual’s salary. Think of it this way: If you are hiring for a lower-level position that makes $30,000/year, hiring the wrong person could cost you $75,000 when you have to replace them. These are startling statistics, and they prove one thing: you can’t afford to not do things right the first time around.

For many business owners and leaders, hiring the right person seems arduous and impossible. There always seems to be some external roadblock or excuse: “All the good people have jobs”; “People are lazy and don’t want to work as hard as I need them to”; or “I have had employees before and they just didn’t work out.” In my experience, however, statements like these are not a reflection of the people searching for work, but of the hiring process itself.

After making lots of good and bad hiring choices over the years, I discovered some very important strategies for hiring the right people for my teams. Here are the 4 best rules of thumb I’ve discovered:

#1: Own it.

The person for whom the individual being hired will work must be part of the hiring process. Contracting with some outside firm or human resources department to find candidates and conduct screening interviews is counterproductive; it’s an arms-length process that’s fraught with the biases of individuals who have no feel for or dedication to your organization’s success. I have seen great candidates fall through the cracks because too much focus was placed on meeting every requirement posted in the job description, even when those attributes were not really what mattered most in achieving the business objectives; I have also seen candidates get hired who looked amazing on paper but whose personality and work ethic did not resonate with the people they were hired to worked with. People leaders understand the importance of interacting with and selecting candidates personally to ensure a good hire.

#2: Create clear expectations.

A good job description is essential to the hiring process. But before you can create the description, you must have a firm grasp on the specifics of the roles. What activities will the individual be performing? How does the role influence the rest of your organization? What is the purpose of the function? What specific skill set or experience is needed? What kind of character traits are important—does the position require great attention to detail, a knack for customer service, or physical stamina? Setting clear expectations aids in narrowing down which candidates are worth interviewing.

#3: Look for the 3 A’s—Attitude, Aspiration, and Aptitude.

When it comes to the interview process, it is important to look beyond a person’s resume. Hire people who demonstrate a positive attitude in life, who aspire to make a difference for your company and themselves, and who have the aptitude to do what the job requires. Many hiring managers focus on aptitude, but the right team member must possess all 3 A’s. And if you find a person who is a little weak on aptitude but strong in attitude and aspiration, then hire them! You can train people to improve their aptitude; the other two qualities are not so easy to teach.

#4: Don’t hire a body, hire the right person.

This is the last and most important strategy: DO NOT fall prey to the temptation to hire warm bodies. This can be hard not to do, especially when there is an urgent need to get a job done, but putting someone in a role that is not a good fit always results in employee disengagement and/or team disruption, which translates into lower overall productivity. In addition, 9 times out of 10 this “body” will end up either leaving or getting fired—which, as we learned earlier, is costly!

With the right team members, your business or organization will thrive. Adopt these 4 simple strategies for your hiring process, and I promise, you will find the right people for your team!

Reflection Question: What hiring practices have worked well for you in the past?  What hiring mistakes have you made?  Share your answers in the comments section below.

Call for input: If you have a question about leading, supervising or managing people, please send an email to info@peopleleadership.com and the answer to your question may be featured in one of my weekly blog posts or weekly People Leadership Insights.

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