35. Hiring Well
Don [00:00:00] The single most predominant criteria for a successful new hire is not their resume. It’s their fit with the organization, the culture.
Don [00:00:14] My name is Don Rheem CEO of E3 Solutions and author of the book, “Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience That Drives High-Performance Cultures.”
Don [00:00:24] I speak across North America on the neuroscience of engagement and I’m passionate about helping leaders at every level create engaging workplace environments where employees feel safe, recognized and valued. Employees who feel safe are happier, healthier and more productive.
Don [00:00:41] Each week, my team and I take on topics impacting managers and we offer solutions to your biggest workplace challenges. And, you’re listening to Thrive By Design, a podcast created by E3 Solutions to give managers, CEOs and leaders the tips strategies and tools needed to create an engaged culture at work.
Kelly [00:01:05] Welcome. I’m your host Kelly Burns, vice president of client experiences at E3 Solutions.
Kelly [00:01:11] As always, we tackle critical workplace themes each week with our resident expert and CEO Don Rheem.
Kelly [00:01:18] Welcome Don and thank you for taking the time to be here with us.
Don [00:01:21] It’s my pleasure Kelly.
Kelly [00:01:23] As we heard at the top of today’s episode, this week’s focus is exploring effective strategies for hiring well.
Kelly [00:01:29] As leaders we have to hire new employees to drive growth in our organization. But we’re smack dab in the middle of a talent labor shortage. There are so many more jobs available than talented employees to fill those jobs.
Kelly [00:01:42] And, it’s not just about filling jobs, it’s filling them well, with people who not only can do the job that you have laid out for them. But, also are a great fit for your organization, that will help progress your team culture. And, that won’t create negative or toxic environments once they come on board. That’s a really tough job for leaders to fill roles these days with the right people for the right culture.
Kelly [00:02:04] I recently read a Robert Half survey that said that nine in 10 CFOs who are looking to hire or fill positions for their teams said that it is challenging. And, we know this.
Kelly [00:02:14] It’s challenging to find skilled candidates for professional-level positions. And the average time it can take to fill a role is a month or more. That’s a huge amount of time to spin your wheels trying to find talented people to come onboard.
Kelly [00:02:28] So what can we do to rethink the hiring process to make this easier on managers?
Don [00:02:33] Well what I’m hearing out in the field as I talk around the country about engagement and work with our clients around the country, they wish they could find someone within a month.
Don [00:02:42] Many of them are trying to fill positions and have been for months.
Don [00:02:46] Something happened in the first quarter of this year that’s making this problem even worse. The U.S. economy grew at 3.2% in the first quarter, which is great for us economically. It means the economy is robust, there’s no sign of a turndown. It’s way above what expectations were.
Don [00:03:02] What it also means is this competition for jobs is getting even tougher, because as we grow we need to fill positions to help us grow and it’s getting harder and harder to do that. So the struggle is two-fold. I need to find the talent but I need to find the talent that just doesn’t exist.
Don [00:03:18] For the first time in our lives, Kelly, there are more unfilled jobs in America today—7.2 million—than there are unemployed people to fill them. This is part of the new reality of the future of work is talent is scarce.
Don [00:03:32] So this puts an even finer point on the hiring process because you don’t want to hire the wrong person because it’s going to delay you, it’s going to take more time and it’s also incredibly expensive.
Don [00:03:44] It needs to be done differently and the only way to hire, using science, is to test. Psychoanalytic testing, to determine fit because the single most predominant criteria for a successful new hire is not their resumé, it’s their fit with the organization, with the culture.
Don [00:04:05] And we’ve identified four areas of fit. It’s fit with the job itself and that’s where the resume is probably the most helpful. Do they have the skill sets to do this work?
Don [00:04:15] There’s fit with the team. So are they a good fit behaviorally, attitudinally for the team that they’re going to have to work with? Are they a good fit with the person they report to? Or, is that going to be like oil and water?
Don [00:04:27] And, then, are they a good fit with the culture of the organization? Because you can hire someone who’s an expert in their field and brilliant but they can be just setting off cultural explosions all over the place because they don’t fit with the culture? They don’t appreciate the culture, they undermine the culture and now leaders are in this position of, gosh, I want this talent but, oh my gosh, look what they’re doing to the team and the culture it’s so destructive.
Don [00:04:52] You want to eliminate those hassles and the best way to do it is for fit.
Don [00:04:55] Now here’s the key thing about fit. It’s not just testing the individual. I mean that will tell you something about them but you also need to know what they’re what they’re going to fit into.
Don [00:05:04] So, if you have a really successful team, for example, I would test those team members to find out what are the skill sets that make this group work so well. Where are the similarities and how we complementing each other?
Don [00:05:18] And then, when you test a new hire, you look at those results and you see, does this person fit in with this group? And, here’s what we see time after time after time. The CEO or somebody falls in love, if you will, with this new candidate. Says, we’re gonna hire her, she’s absolutely amazing. Look what she did there and there and she just interviewed so well.
Don [00:05:37] But the testing sent a different signal. No, she’s not going to be a good fit. She’s missing this, this and this and this is gonna be an issue going in. But you ignore it because this is the candidate you want.
Don [00:05:48] You hire them and then within six months you have to fire them. Incredibly expensive and the testing told you exactly why you have to fire them. And, we find CEOs go through that process once and then they no longer ignore the data.
Kelly [00:06:02] We often let our emotion overrule our logic and that is exactly what happens in situations like this.
Don [00:06:09] This is what the research shows. So, one of the final parts of a hiring process is you bring the person in for the interview. There’s a final interviewer that typically makes an assessment. It might be a group decision but there’s usually one person that makes the final determination and they think they’re doing it based on what they see on paper and the cognitive information they pull in for the individual.
Don [00:06:29] But FMRI research, functional magnetic resonance imaging research, tells a different story. The interviewer makes their decision in the first 3 to 5 minutes of the process of the interview and it’s made in the emotional centers of the brain, the limbic system.
Don [00:06:44] And, essentially it’s like, I’m here talking to this potential candidate and my limbic system which of course doesn’t have its own consciousness but I’m going to paraphrase here. The limbic system says, hey, could I drive cross-country with that person in a two seater?
Don [00:06:57] And, if my limbic system goes, yeah, they’re great, they’re innovative, they ask great questions, they’re curious, they have a great personality. That would be so much fun. That then radiates into the prefrontal cortex and we say you’re hired.
Don [00:07:10] And then if someone asks why? You look down at a piece of paper and you start citing. You justify it through these things you saw on the resumé. The point is, the decision is an emotional one. And, it gets even more pointed than that.
Don [00:07:22] There is research on how a job interviewer assesses a candidate. Let’s say it’s a 10 point scale and I give the candidate an 8.5. Then you track that candidate for two or three years and you come back and say okay, are they an 8.5 candidate?
Don [00:07:36] This is an issue of correlation. What is the correlation between the job interviewers assessment of the candidate against the candidate’s actual performance over time? And you look to see what it is. And, you know what it is?
Kelly [00:07:48] Probably not a lot.
Don [00:07:49] Zero. There isn’t any. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the interview. I think you absolutely should. But when you make the decision based on the limbic systems, essentially comfort or lack of threat, associated with the individual, that is not a good criteria for whether the person will actually do well in the job.
Don [00:08:08] Now we don’t do psychoanalytic testing. This is not a book of business for us, it’s not something we do. But, my gosh, we would never hire someone internally without doing it.
Don [00:08:18] We use a couple of different tests right now. And, my favorite one and, Kelly, I know this is a favorite of yours. You helped us identify the right tool but it’s the Enneagram. And, finding out where they are in those nine positions on the Ennegram has turned out to be really, really important in understanding why people do what they do.
Kelly [00:08:38] And, we’ll have a whole series of podcasts on that in the coming months.
Kelly [00:08:41] But, I agree with you. I think that kind of insight really gives the team and the manager, specifically, some clarity around the kind of fit that they’ll be within the organization which matters so much more than the skill set.
Kelly [00:08:54] You can teach the skill set, you can grow them in those areas. But if they’re not a good fit, they’re gonna destroy a culture that you have spent time building up and trying to create as positive as possible.
Don [00:09:05] So, I was in the field with one of our clients, an engineering company. They’ve done a great job of identifying the best candidates out of the best schools. And they used to hire based on, they would go for the GPA. Let’s get the smartest people coming out of the class. They don’t do that anymore.
Kelly [00:09:21] Yeah, I can see why not.
Don [00:09:22] Yeah. So, what they do is they assess the candidates for their culture. And, they hire for fit, for culture fit. Because, as the CEO told me, we can train them to do whatever it is we need them to do. We know they’re competent because of where they’re coming from, the program they’re in but we need to hire for fit with our culture.
Don [00:09:42] Because what they had found is that they were hiring these people right out of school and they’re essentially training them up and getting them skilled. And then in two years they were jumping to other organizations because there was no fit. There was no connection. This thing we call, emotional velcro, which is so important between an employee and a culture.
Don [00:09:58] The point of the culture fit is this, when they get there, they feel like they fit in. They want a nest. This is a place where I think I can stay. And so they started developing this emotional velcro. But if you if you started work in an organization, Kelly, and I know you’ve worked in organizations where it wasn’t a good culture fit for you and you could just feel that tension and aggravation and frustration and that’s not a way to hold onto employees.
Kelly [00:10:22] You can do your skillset at any organization that matches your industry. But the emotional velcro is what sets an organization apart with it and that’s what keeps people.
Don [00:10:33] You know we want people to feel comfortable like, ahhhh, feels like family. I really like it here. And, that’s something you don’t find on a resume.
Kelly [00:10:43] So, we’ve talked about how to get the right people in and to use science and the logic, not just the emotion behind it, to create emotional velcro.
Kelly [00:10:53] But, what we haven’t talked about is, how do we even attract these employees in the first place? What do companies or leaders or H.R. representatives need to do to attract employees to an organization from the get go? They need to get the right kinds of candidates applying before they can hire the right candidate.
Don [00:11:09] Well it’s really hard and you know, formally what we would do is, we would put out a position ad and you’re essentially trolling among those that don’t have jobs. Those are the people that look for those ads but there just aren’t a lot of talented people that are unemployed right now.
Don [00:11:24] Or having said that, if they are unemployed, there’s probably a very clear reason why they’re not employable. We need to be hiring, frankly, from a pool of people that are already working and that feel disaffected in the place where they are working.
Don [00:11:38] And the question is, how do we get them to come over to our organization? And this is where it’s getting tougher.
Don [00:11:43] Traditionally, our whole lives and frankly for the past 250 years since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, employees needed a job. They needed your job. If you had a job that was available they needed it. They wanted it and because they needed the income to take care of their family.
Don [00:12:00] That’s not the case anymore. They don’t need your job. And, so, what are you doing to create a compelling narrative for why they would want to come and work for you? And there are so many things that go into that, including your digital presence. What do you look like on on the Internet?
Kelly [00:12:19] One of the first things that I would do if I’m looking for a job, which I’m not Don, is I’m gonna go online and see, does this company website connect with me? What am I finding in here about their culture or the pictures that they put up? Or the way they talk about themselves. Am I attracted to that? Is that something that’s compelling to me, that I would enjoy.
Kelly [00:12:39] I’m looking on Glass Door to see what are people saying about this job. What is it actually like to work here? Is the culture toxi? Are they getting a lot of negative reviews?
Kelly [00:12:47] Or, are people saying that they love working there and they can’t wait to show up every day? Those are really important things that anyone looking for a job right now are going to be going through, is trolling the Internet to find whatever they can. Because you’re walking, as a candidate, blind into a culture if you don’t do something to try and connect with the organization. And that doesn’t feel good for the candidate or the employer.
Don [00:13:09] An overwhelming majority and I don’t have the figure top at hand, but an overwhelming majority of people looking for work, who are open to work do their research online.
Don [00:13:19] It’s not about just going into the company and hearing their spiel and you make your decision based on that. And, there’s so many places to go today to find that information.
Don [00:13:27] You mentioned Glassdoor.com. There are other websites where employees vent about their organization. So, understanding that digital presence is clear now.
Don [00:13:37] I’m making a little bit of a leap here. So, if you want to protect your digital presence, you can’t control it because it’s individual employees doing their own thing. The most effective thing you can do to control and enhance your digital presence is to have high levels of engaged employees.
Don [00:13:53] That’s one of the reasons why our clients measure engagement and work to improve it because if your employees are engaged they’re saying good things about you online and not the negatives.
Kelly [00:14:03] Another aspect for a candidate is, when I walk into this office for an interview what does that feel like? What’s the environment like? Is the office space cold and sterile and very white and cubicle? Is it warm and inviting? Are people smiling and talking or keeping their head down with their headphones on?
Kelly [00:14:21] How do I connect with the people I’m interviewing with? Are they welcoming to me? Do I feel like I can connect with them? That in-person interview is a critical component for the candidate to decide, is this a culture I really want to be a part of?
Don [00:14:34] Yeah, I toured a facility recently, a manufacturing facility recently, and was being taken around by the CEO. And, I asked myself, would I want to work here? Not because I was looking for a job but it’s just part of our mindset for I think what what we do at E3. We’re always asking these questions.
Don [00:14:51] And, I was noticing the CEO, he would walk through a department telling me about what was going on but he wouldn’t interact with any of them. It’s like he didn’t know any of their first names and they were only sporadically responding to him.
Don [00:15:05] I was asking myself, wow, the CEO walks around and doesn’t interact with the team, is that a place where I would want to work? And it just isn’t. It implies a CEO who’s maybe just a little bit too aloof, hasn’t spent the time, doesn’t manage by walking around and just connecting with people.
Kelly [00:15:20] I think this is a place where emotion over logic makes a lot of sense. The candidate walking in can tell emotionally, can I feel connected here? Do I feel like I have a sense of belonging here? Would I fit in here? That’s all emotionally driven responses and I think that’s really appropriate for a candidate to assess.
Don [00:15:37] In the TEDx talk that I gave, one of the things that got picked up is my line, “the future of work will be defined more by how it feels than how it pays.”
Don [00:15:48] This is a key thing that you bring up when I toured this facility. What’s the felt experience of going into this organization and talking to people? Does it feel like family? Does it feel relational? Does it feel open? Does it feel fun? Are people happy? I’m literally going to be looking for smiles around.
Don [00:16:04] But if I walk around the organization and everybody is stone faced, flat affect, like you said headphones in staring at their screen, you know, I don’t need this job. So why would I choose to come here?
Kelly [00:16:16] Right. So say we’ve gone through this process, we’ve interviewed our candidates, we’ve made our final decision. All of us have gone through the unfortunate process of making a bad hire. Somebody who wasn’t quite the right fit, couldn’t quite achieve what they said that they could. Or, they weren’t living up to what we thought that they would be.
Kelly [00:16:35] That is expensive. It can cost over 50,000 dollars on average to make a bad hire. But, that’s not the only consequence, is the financial cost of a bad hire. There’s also lots of cultural costs to that. Can you talk about some of those and what are the most important things that leaders need to keep in mind to to avoid bad hires as much as possible?
Don [00:16:54] Sure. One of the first things I see is team dysfunction. When you bring on the wrong person. You know, you brought them on for talent or skill set or experience but internally, with the team, and they’re just all kinds of behavioral traits that they could have that would lead to that.
Don [00:17:11] Your culture can take a hit. There’s a second one. So, you bring this person in, they’re not a good fit for culture. They might actually attack it assail it, make fun of it or ignore it. But nevertheless, this culture, this thing that you’ve worked so long to create and refine and get the right people and this person comes in and blows it up.
Don [00:17:29] Another simple one, is just lost time. You bring in the wrong candidate that might take you three, six, nine, sometimes 12 months to figure it out. Then it might take you another three, six, nine, 12 months to get rid of them, without taking on legal liability or other aspects.
Don [00:17:43] That whole time, other candidates that you might have hired that are out there have now already got jobs somewhere else. In this talent war that you referred to we can’t afford that.
Don [00:17:55] And then we’ve also had employees and senior leaders just talk to us about hiring fatigue. And, it’s just, we’ve been looking for so long and so hard and it’s just we can’t find anybody. We can’t. And so there’s pressure from the top to bring the people on. Traditionally the H.R. folks that are trying to find these candidates are finding it harder and harder. And, so they’re taking some hits and that’s not good either.
Kelly [00:18:19] So ultimately what is the most important thing leaders should keep in mind to hire.
Don [00:18:22] Well, I think first you want to test for fit and figure out a way to get the right psychoanalytic testing to do that. When you’re hiring, don’t just do a single interview. Try to involve what I would refer to as, end users, in the interview. Like, who’s going to have to actually work shoulder to shoulder with this person? And have them involved in the interview process, not just at the management level but actual team members as well.
Don [00:18:46] And, then this might seem a little odd but invite the spouse to come take the tour with them, to see the place, where this individual is going to work. When you hire someone you’re hiring a team, you’re hiring really that person and then the person that they load share with the most, which is going to be their partner. Bring that partner in so the partner can visualize the people, the space, the environment. So that this employee can load share more effectively with this most important person in their life about what’s going on.
Kelly [00:19:17] That’s one thing that you did in my interview process that really stood out to me, that said this company values family. This company values not just what I can bring to the team but who I am as a person. And, what other facets of my life are included in that?
Kelly [00:19:32] When you invited my husband to come and participate in a conversation with you after I had been through an interview process, it told me that it mattered to you that he be included because he’s such an important part of my life. And that spoke volumes about the culture here and has continued to be proven true over time. But it was the most unique interview process I’ve ever had.
Kelly [00:19:55] But I highly recommend something like that for employees or for hiring managers or for H.R. as they think about inviting, if the candidate has a significant other or a family that can come in and be a part of that process. It speaks volumes about how much you value more than just what a person can bring to a job.
Don [00:20:15] When you understand the importance of emotional velcro, of a potential employee connecting and engaging with a firm and wanting to stay there, you don’t want to ignore some of these most important relationships in their life.
Don [00:20:28] We know when someone’s making a decision about coming on board or even staying onboard that they talk to their partner about it and why not bring that partner in and and help them be a part of the process?
Don [00:20:40] We need to move beyond the title of, hey, we’re acquiring new human capital. We’re not hiring parts in a machine. We’re hiring people that are hardwired to be relational, pro-social and how can we send the signal that this is a place that’s fun, engaging and you’re going to want to stay here for a long, long time.
Kelly [00:21:02] That’s it for today. I’m your host Kelly Burns, thank you for listening.
Kelly [00:21:05] Tune in to next week’s episode. We’ll be talking about onboarding strategies for those new employees you just hired.
Kelly [00:21:12] Are you looking for science based solutions to increase employee engagement and retention? Are you ready to measure key drivers of high performance.? Do you want your team to look forward to coming to work. Don’t wait. Check out E3 Solutions.com right now. Be sure to subscribe, rate and review the show. Each rating and review helps other managers like you find this show and benefit from these episodes.
Kelly [00:21:36] Thrive By Design is produced and audio engineered by Megan Rummler.
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