As a human resources professional, you have a critical role to play in helping your organization hire well. The mind-set of a hiring manager is often focused on finding someone with the qualities and skill sets to match the existing or newly created position. Sound reasonable? At first blush, it may. But you can help that manager, and the organization as a whole, begin to view hiring as a strategic opportunity.
If someone leaves a position and the manager is focused on replacing the person who left, the next person hired may not be the best person for the job, regardless of his or her qualifications. That’s because the manager may simply be trying to fill the prior employee’s shoes instead of taking the opportunity to do a broader review of the work that needs to get done and the skill set required to do it. The prior employee may have been very good at his or her job. But now that that person is gone, why not consider filling the position with someone who has the skills to perform the current tasks but also has additional competencies that allow him or her to grow with the strategic direction of the department and the company?
In today’s global economy, businesses need to be able to change direction on a dime. But if hiring is not done with a strategic view toward possible future needs, your workforce will not be able to make that turn with you. Jobs tend to get shaped over time to the people in them instead of the other way around. And when someone has been in a job for a while, what they are doing on a day-to-day basis may only slightly resemble the original job description. If the person was a self-starter, had a broad skill set, communicated well, and looked for opportunities to improve job processes, that can be a good thing. But if the person was merely an “okay” performer who performed only the minimum work necessary, there is now an opportunity to redefine the job and job skills necessary so that the next employee can take the work to the next level.
When there is an opening, HR can work with managers to assess how to position the job for growth. Take some time to look at the existing job description and required competencies, and assess whether they still reflect current business needs and potential business needs over the next two years. Determine whether the person who left was actually performing the job as written and, if not, what they were doing that is not reflected in the job description, along with what priorities may have been left undone or are no longer a part of the job. You can also consider whether, in light of the company’s strategic plan, the job is still aligned with those needs. And you should think about the types of skill sets that will benefit your company going forward. Just because those skills may not be needed immediately does not mean you should ignore them in the hiring process.
If you take a broader view of what the job was when the last person was hired and what work actually needs to get accomplished now, you can help managers plan for the future even in the absence of organizational restructuring. Or, if the circumstances are right, you can use current job openings to encourage an organizational structure review. By being proactive when these opportunities present themselves, you will go a long way toward helping managers attract and retain talent that can grow with the company. And if you do that, you will also be helping the company with its overall succession planning needs.
Strategic hiring requires HR and managers to spend time thinking about the alignment of open positions with the corporate direction. What skills do we need in our workforce now? What skills may we need over the next two years? Does the specific job description accurately reflect both? Has the job changed over time and, if so, what are the core competencies that will be needed? Are managers trained in how to find out about candidate competencies other than those in the job description? These are just some of the questions to consider when you have a chance to fill or create an opening.
Barrie Gross is former Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel (Employment Law) for an international Fortune 1000 company and is a regular contributor to AllBusiness.com. She is the founder of Barrie Gross Consulting, a human resources training and consulting firm dedicated to assisting companies to manage and develop their human capital. Visit www.barriegrossconsulting.com to learn more about Barrie and the services BGC provides.
Note: The information here does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have a legal issue or wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult an attorney in your area concerning your particular situation and facts. Nothing presented on this site or in this article establishes or should be construed as establishing an attorney-client or confidential relationship between you and Barrie Gross. This article is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments or be complete.