Effective Employee Management Begins Before You Hire

By Joseph Sefcik

Have you ever reflected on a new hire and said to yourself, “I made a mistake in hiring this employee?”  If so, you are not alone. Terminating that individual may have been relatively easy, but chances are it was an unpleasant and most likely a difficult task.

Being an effective manager is always easier when your employees are skilled and reliable. Effective employees will make you a more effective manager. When your employees are skilled and capable, work usually flows more smoothly, clients are more satisfied, and there are fewer crises. As managers, we are challenged most by employees who are not entirely capable and perform less than satisfactorily.

Therefore, we will be more effective managers if we focus on selecting the right people to hire. Selecting the right people requires an effective selection process. If we take shortcuts in the selection process and lower our standards for quality, we will end up having to compensate for those shortcuts by spending additional time managing and supervising ineffective employees.

We all face the temptation to hire quickly and fill open positions. Giving in to this temptation often forces organizations to compensate for new-hire deficiencies through training or supervision to catch employee mistakes before they become real problems. Unfortunately, too often we depend on training to make an employee into something they never were from the beginning. Similarly, we may conclude incorrectly that our management is ineffective when in fact, we simply hired a management challenge. Our job as managers is tough enough without inviting unnecessary hurdles.

Is selecting the right employee the answer to effective management? Not entirely, yet an effective selection process evaluates applicants who 1) fit the job and 2) possess the required skills. Selecting new employees who meet these requirements will ease the dependence on requiring additional management to compensate for workforce deficiencies.

Job Fit. Job fit refers to a method where the manager/employer evaluates an applicant for compatibility with the job requirements and the working environment. An employee’s job compatibility is one of the earliest indicators of voluntary turnover. Turnover can erode morale within your organization and erode customer confidence. Therefore, one aspect of the selection process should be to match the preferences and motivation of applicants with the conditions and requirements of the job. This can be accomplished informally with an interview or more formally with a test designed specifically to measure job fit.

Possess the Right Skills. Possessing the right skills refers to evaluating whether an applicant has the necessary skills required to do the job. This is not merely a review of prior work experience because just being in the job at a previous employer is not a guarantee that an applicant possesses the right skills. Accurately evaluating an applicant’s skills usually requires a diagnostic tool. These tools can be as direct as a typing test or a test for voice inflection, or they may even include a comprehensive simulation test that immerses applicants in “virtual reality” of the job. Written questions or written tests usually are not sufficient in determining skill levels of applicants.

If given the choice, we would all choose to be on a winning team. Winning teams always strive to hire the best people possible. It is easier to manage good people and it is easier to win with good people. Selecting people who fit the job and have the necessary skills to succeed just makes good business sense.

Joseph Sefcik is President and CEO of Employment Technologies. He has 25 years of experience in the field of employee selection. Twenty years ago, Mr. Sefcik designed the first automated job simulations for entry and mid-level jobs. These early simulations evolved into the EASy brand simulations and later on, in 1994, the formation of Employment Technologies Corporation.

[From Connection MagazineJul/Aug 2003]