Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Red Light/Green Light Hiring Produces No Winners

In many companies, headcount is hard to obtain, difficult to keep, and often impossible to fill with quality people. Many companies are experiencing hiring freezes where “open headcount” is lost and often never recovered and essential tasks go undone; or more likely half done, giving the illusion of progress where none really exists. While first line managers are scrambling to keep their heads above water and are doing the absolute minimum in many areas, top level executives are patting themselves on the back as their efforts at “cost reduction” (i.e. layoffs) are producing the desired results.

While it is true that having less people in the organization reduces costs, it can also reduce effectiveness in both the short and long term. This is not to imply in any way that some organizations have never been over-staffed. Obviously some fat or excess headcount can be cut from an organization’s budget without significant impact, but there comes a point when you are no longer cutting fat and you are cutting muscle and bone. This means that key tasks and projects are no longer being completed or worse, they are completed without the appropriate research and oversight giving the impression that the boat is floating when it is actually taking on water, lots of water.

First line managers have learned that complaining doesn’t work so they “suck it up”, juggle priorities, and allow any work that des not require immediate attention to be put on long term or permanent hold. Knowing that things are not getting done or not getting done correctly adds significantly to their stress level because they know that sooner or later their lack of focus on these future projects will come back to haunt them. So they continue on, hoping that the economy shifts and that they will be allowed to hire new staff before the impact of these future projects are felt. Often this leads to something that I call “Red light/Green light” hiring.

Red light/Green light hiring is a process used by many companies where, when the light is “red,” no hiring of any kind is permitted. No ads are posted, no resume’s reviewed, no consideration is given to the need for new employees because hiring has been “frozen.” This condition often lasts several months with no clear end date in sight. Open personnel requisitions are often forfeited and may or may not be returned. When the light is “red,” hiring is not only restricted, but so is interviewing. After all, what good is interviewing if no jobs are open.

The real problem with “Red light/Green light” hiring is what happens when the light turns green. The green light often happens without any advance notice, with no real clarity as to where the open requisitions are coming from, and results in a flurry of unfocused activity as managers attempt to fill requisitions they didn’t know they had. Green light hiring is often short in duration with an unspecified, but clearly short, window for hiring.

You can only imagine what happens when a manager is suddenly told that the light is green and they now have 2 open personnel requisitions that must be filled quickly. They know that the light will soon be red again, so they pull out all of the stops to bring new people on board.

Often, this has some very bad and long reaching consequences. But we will talk more about that next week.

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

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