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3 Hiring Strategies HR Leaders Should Know

3 Hiring Strategies HR Leaders Should Know

by Shannon Mullen O'Keefe

Story Highlights

  • Encourage managers to invest in relationships with recruiting partners
  • List job requirements that reflect evolving business needs
  • Determine whether your next hire will raise the bar for your team

The most important decision a manager makes is whom to hire.

And in a competitive job market, getting exactly the right hire can seem like an impossible task. But it doesn't need to be.

Gallup has decades of experience helping organizations make better hiring decisions using a research-based methodology for understanding what defines excellence in nearly every imaginable role. Over time, three strategies have emerged that can help hiring managers feel prepared and not panicked about filling a vacancy.

1. An "always be recruiting" approach underpins an effective hiring strategy.

Set your hiring managers up for success by creating a culture that allows them to invest in key relationships with recruiters. Don't treat recruiters like the utility company by only calling when the lights go out! Rather, view them as critical partners and subject matter experts when it comes to sourcing future team members.

Ideally, hiring managers should view recruiters as critical to their team's success. They should take ownership to cultivate relationships and alignment by ensuring that:

  • recruiters know their teams well and understand their current business challenges
  • recruiters can identify their stars and can articulate the value they bring
  • recruiters know their teams well enough to keep an eye out for candidates who may be future stars
  • recruiters are aligned on how future business demands may affect hiring for teams in the future

Allowing hiring managers the time to invest in relationships with their recruiting partners will pay off in the long run. This ongoing alignment between hiring managers and their recruiting partners helps to ensure that when unexpected turnover happens, teams won't be left scrambling for help because these key partners are already on the same page about what is needed.

2. An agile hiring strategy requires consideration of evolving business needs.

Given the rapidly changing workplace, hiring managers are often faced with a shifting landscape as they aim to bring in new team members. Constantly evolving business needs require new approaches to hiring. Consider, for example, a technology manager tasked with hiring someone who will not only replace some data management tasks, but who will now also spearhead data management for new systems and advise key stakeholders on significant findings.

It is more important than ever to take time to assess how rapidly changing demands may require a shift in requirements for future hires. This is essential to an agile hiring strategy. To do this, hiring managers must align on key job demands needed for the next hire.

Wise talent acquisition teams will take time to ascertain the following:

  • What are the key behaviors of high performers in the role? (Or, if this is a new role to the organization or the demands of the job are shifting, what are they intended to be in the future?)
  • What outcomes are important to success in the role? What is measured, and how is it measured?
  • What are the main challenges of the role? Are these static challenges, or changing business needs demanding something new for the future?
  • What skills and knowledge are required for success in the role? What is a "nice to have" but not needed?

These may sound like rudimentary questions, but it's important to get "back to the basics" when hiring. Pausing to determine what success looks like, define how success is measured and reflect on high performers helps to build an important case for the ideal hire.

Do your hiring managers ask these types of questions? Do they have a framework that helps them determine key behaviors or common traits that lead to success in the role? Answering these questions will help them articulate to your recruiting staff the types of candidates they're looking for.

It is more important than ever to take time to assess how rapidly changing demands may require a shift in requirements for future hires.

The answers to these questions can also help hiring managers frame job ads to accurately reflect key requirements of the role so your teams attract the right candidates. Ultimately, asking such questions helps shift the focus from "who will be hired" to "what specific job demands will be expected of a new hire to succeed."

3. A winning hiring strategy means raising the bar with each new hire.

Hiring managers sometimes tend to have a narrow perspective when thinking about their next hire. They can easily fall into what Daniel Kahneman calls the "availability heuristic," often cited as a mental shortcut that results in giving undue weight to what is top of mind. For example, when thinking about whom they want to hire, they often think about replicating their former best employee -- or the opposite, replacing a failed employee that they don't want to repeat. The point is not to overlook top performers, but rather to carefully consider what high performance is expected to look like considering the evolving needs of the team.

So, how can you save your hiring managers from falling into the "availability heuristic" trap? The authors of "Outsmart Your Own Biases" suggest taking a more deliberate approach and inviting either an internal review or an outsider's perspective. Further, to avoid bias traps, they suggest using objective data and not just "what you've seen and heard" data. Structured, validated assessments allow hiring managers to target the information they need, enabling them to step back and assess candidates objectively. Such assessments are validated to predict performance across a range of roles.

To this end, Gallup researchers have identified five general innate traits, or tendencies, that predict performance across job types. These traits include Motivation, or a drive for achievement; another example is Initiation, or taking action and inspiring others to succeed.

Analytics-based hiring -- using assessments designed to identify people with innate tendencies that predict performance -- can help hiring managers objectively sort to those candidates with the most potential for excellence.

The point is not to overlook top performers, but rather to carefully consider what high performance is expected to look like considering the evolving needs of the team.

Here is the deal, though: When hiring managers select those with the potential for excellence, it raises the bar for onboarding and engaging these new employees. If potential isn't properly developed, people never approach the "ceiling" of their potential … and the rationale for hiring people with a "higher ceiling" in the first place is actually defeated. This reinforces the need for alignment across your organization. Hiring managers need to align both with their best recruiting partners and with other key partners throughout the organization to ensure an excellent overall employee experience for each new hire they invest in.

In sum, take proactive steps to set your hiring managers up for success. Encourage them to invest in their relationships with recruiters, make sure they consider evolving business needs in their hiring approach, and enable them to hold out for excellence in their next hire. These strategies will help ensure that your managers' most important decision -- whom they hire -- results in greater returns for everyone.

Invest in your hiring managers -- and in the culture your new employees are being hired into.

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