Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Red Light/Green Light Hiring – Part 2

Last week I wrote about a fairly common practice among many companies that I call “Red light/Green light” hiring. Fundamentally, this is a process initiated by well intentioned, but unrealistic, executives to control hiring and headcount. This process involves turning off the spigot of hiring completely and then, when the need arises, opening that spigot back up on a short term, temporary basis.

Executives who promote this type of hiring believe that it controls headcount and rewards those managers who are willing to make quick hiring decisions. “If it takes you a month to fill one open position then that position was clearly not very important to you,” lectured one smug executive. “If it is important, you will get it done quickly.”

On the one hand, there is logic in the concept of applying full focus to something as important as filling open headcount. On the other hand, this is not really about filling open headcount but about bringing people and talent into your organization; talent that results in new ideas, improved performance, and long term savings and profitability.

Here in lies the problem.

There is no decision that a manager or leader makes that is more important than the decision of who to put on the team. A good choice gets up to speed quickly, blends in well with the team while supplementing their knowledge and expertise, and contributes ideas as well as sweat into the organization. A bad choice doesn’t just fail to contribute. A bad choice wastes time, disrupts the flow of activity, causes dissension in the organization, and costs you more time and money than having no one in the position at all. A bad choice costs you money and actually reduces the productivity of the rest of the team instead of enhancing it. In many ways, a bad employee is worse than no employee at all.

These are things that executives often overlook when, by looking at the numbers and hearing some grumbling from their teams, decide to turn on the hiring spigot for a few weeks to “relieve the pressure” of being short headcount. They look at the number of employees, the amount of headcount reduction in certain areas, measure the salary impact, and agree to some short term relief. Executives are paid to be strategic thinkers, balancing long term views with short term goals. By reducing the decision to hire new people to a simple discussion of headcount and dollars, they totally overlook the concept of putting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. This means that they are totally missing the strategic aspects of their most important assets (their people) in an attempt to control short term costs.

The solution for “Red light/Green light” hiring is really not that complicated. And here are a couple of options:

1. Good companies are always on the lookout for talent. Don’t let a hiring freeze stop you from identifying talented people.

2. Create a simple “Yellow light” where managers have the opportunity to interview people without making offers.

3. Take a long term view of your organization and reduce headcount without imposing a hiring freeze. If managers believe that removing dead weight from their organization will actually cost them headcount they will often keep bad employees on the team, just to keep their numbers up.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Good Points. I have seen so many companies understaffed and "stressed" due to a red light decision. many of these employees are ready to leave when the economy gives a green light.

    It is important to staff for the work that is available, look for talent they will pay for them selves and be prepared to run a red light to get the right talent or serve the customer.

    Congratulations on the Book Listing on Amazon.