Few companies are thinking about hiring right now, but that’s a mistake. If history is any guide, staffing will become a front-burner issue once the economic upheaval eases. Even now, companies are running into staffing problems in emerging markets, and many will have to find talented replacements for baby-boom retirees. Will they be able to meet their needs?
Not likely, say Fernández-Aráoz of Egon Zehnder and Harvard Business School professors Groysberg and Nohria. Their research, conducted with scores of CEOs, HR executives, and recruiters, found current hiring practices to be haphazard at best and inept at worst.
And no wonder. Ignorant of their staffing needs, most companies treat hiring top-level executives as an emergency. That leaves them little choice. One study found that nearly a quarter of the time, the executive selected was the only candidate considered. Far too few companies conduct reference checks; far too many rely on gut reactions when judging qualifications and cultural fit. Hardly anyone considers whether candidates will be good team players. And, shockingly, only half of the top managers recruited by the companies studied were interviewed by anyone in the C-suite. The result: About a third of promising new hires depart within three years of being recruited.
As a remedy, the authors offer their best thinking about state-of-the-art hiring practices for the top levels of the organization. Their recommendations cover the entire hiring cycle in seven steps: anticipating the need for new hires, specifying the job, developing a pool of candidates, assessing the candidates, closing the deal, integrating the newcomer, and reviewing hire-process effectiveness. Whatever the future brings, firms that follow these practices successfully will have a distinct advantage over their shortsighted competitors.
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