Monday, December 04, 2006

Hiring Managers – Just How Important is the Dreaded Job Description?

It is no secret that most Hiring Managers dread developing a job description for an open position in their department. “Just get it from HR” is the normal response when I ask for it.

Unfortunately that is exactly the wrong response. Remember my second post – “The Best Qualified Candidate Rarely Gets Hired”? Another reason for the poor selection of employees is that the manager and interviewing team are not looking for the correct candidate skills to be successful.

Think of your work team as a sports team. What do Championship Teams do well? The fundamentals. Another analogy is building a house. If your footings are not square, your walls will not be square.

A good job description is the foundation of every point of the recruiting process. Therefore beginning the recruitment process by doing the proper due diligence on the job description is absolutely required.

It is always a good idea to list all of the day to day functions of the position. This part of the process helps you decide if the position should evolve into a higher or lower position than what you originally had.

You may decide that the position requirements no longer require certain skills because of automation. On the other hand, automation of duties may actually give you an opportunity to hire a more strategic individual. Until you take the time to truly understand where that position is evolving, it is difficult at best to determine the skills necessary to be successful.

Once you list the day to day (tactical) functions, list the skills necessary to perform those skills. Now decide which skills are critical to the successful completion of those functions. Some skills are “nice to have”.

Now list the strategic functions of the job. They could include special projects that you may want that person to complete over a year. List the skills necessary to be successful in the completion of the strategic functions. Again, which skills are critical and which are “nice to have”. Obviously some skills may overlap depending on the position.

Is this a people management position? If so, what management duties are tactical and what duties are strategic? What Management skills are critical and what are nice to have?

Can you see how all of this information can help you grade the position and better determine whether someone is a good fit?

Of course some of you are already doing these types of due diligence but would like something to help tie everything together.

Here is a suggestion that I have been making to Hiring Managers for quite a few years now. Determine and list the 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals for the position. Now the skills required to be successful in the first year should become crystal clear for everyone on the interviewing team. This gives you something that may be better measured than a gut check.

The added advantage is that these goals give you and the new employee discussion points to discuss every time you meet during the critical first year. For instance, “How are you doing on your 3 month goals? Do you need any assistance from me?” At the end of the year, there will not be any surprises on either side during the annual review.

Finally, when you make a great hire, you develop a nice bounce to your step. Things move smoothly and you will be promoted. If you make a poor hire, what does it cost you and the company? Possibly more than you ever dreamed.

Which do you want? Isn’t developing a solid job description worth it?