Sunday, February 08, 2009
Obama nominations illustrate lessons
The recent high profile withdraw of two of President Obama's nominees yields several lessons for employers and HR professionals about the hiring process. Here are a few:
1) Determine the real essential qualifications of the job. This includes more than just competencies; it includes things about the person that will add to their ability to get things done and work with others. For example, Daschle was widely seen as an expert on health care issues, but his tie to lobbyists and his tax problems made him an easy target.
2) Understand the environment the position is in. In Obama's case, the public was fed up with a perceived double standard that while average Americans struggled but paid their taxes, the wealthy--incredibly--failed to fulfill their tax obligations. Nominating three (if you include Geithner) individuals who exemplified this was sure to raise the ire of many Americans.
3) Don't rush the hiring process. A full assessment, which always includes reference checks, are vital. The more important the position, the longer the hiring process should be. It's not for me to judge Obama's vetting process, it's likely it was quite thorough. But for certain positions, no rocks should be left unturned.
4) Don't count your chickens. Planning the onboarding process is fine, but don't get too carried away with your plans for your new hire because they can pull out at any time. The hiring process is a two-way contract, and even in these difficult economic times, we shouldn't forget that.
5) You'll make mistakes--everyone does. Finding the right hire is just plain difficult in some cases. The more specific and rare the competencies, the harder it will be. Don't be too hard on yourself, just learn from your mistakes and try again.
6) People are watching. In Obama's case, every decision is broadcast on the 24-hour news cycle. While none of us live in that fishbowl, your current employees are always watching what you do when you make a hire (did they choose that person because they're friends? because they're attractive?). Oftenttimes your customers will be watching as well, to see what this says about your devotion to making merit-based hires. Have a sound hiring plan, and make sure it's transparent.