How to Hire the Right People

How to hire the right people for your business

I’ve attended a few conferences recently where it seems like the question on everyone’s lips is “Where has all the talent gone?” Especially in PR and communications, it’s getting harder for employers to find talent and to know how to hire the right people.

A successful business is made of successful people. To form the best team, one that will stay with you and help you build your business, you must create the right culture and recruit a team that personifies it. It’s not always about finding talent that fits within the specially moulded ‘skill set’, it’s about finding talent that fits with your company values and culture.

Hiring the right people takes time, but it's important to get it right. You may need to change your hiring strategy, think outside the box and look at candidates with backgrounds you wouldn’t normally consider. Here's my advice for how to hire the right people into your business.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

Hiring the wrong person is a huge financial risk. It can cost you a fortune, depending on the level of the hire, how long it takes you to realise the mistake, and the extent of damage done. It’s not just the salary, it’s recruiting, training, benefits, workplace integration, the valuable time your other staff lost on managing or working with the new person, and damage to office morale.

Harvard Business School surveyed 610 CEOs, finding that the typical mid-level manager needs 6.2 months to reach their “break-even point” or the point they are fully productive in the role. That means that on top of the thousands (USDs) wasted from separation expenses, the cost of the productivity drop can double the expense. The estimated cost to hire an employee is usually between 1.5 and 3 times the salary when you factor in everything. For a bad hire, all of it will be lost, and more if they cost you customers. Then you will have to go through the process and costs again to get the right person. It’s a huge lost opportunity if your hiring decision isn’t complementing a business plan or bringing in revenue.

Establish your Work Culture

When I founded Hanson Search, I did so based on a set of six core values which dictate our company culture and are at the heart of every hire we make. When we're hiring, we look for people who share and demonstrate these values. We also look for some key attributes in people, depending on the role. For instance, one of our hiring strategies is to look at former athletes because we highly value a sense of teamwork and resilience.

To be successful at Hanson Search, recruiters and headhunters must demonstrate resiliency, empathy, and curiosity. I'm confident that our training programme can effectively 'skill up' new staff, but they must have these core attributes or I know they won't be a success regardless of how much training they receive. It's not always easy to determine a person's attributes. It's a skill to assess personality in the interview process. It may cost you extra time or money, but consider it an investment and the cost will pay for itself because you'll have the right person in the role at the end.

Retain the Right People

Investing in the right people is paramount, but it’s not easy. You rarely see a return on investment until at least six months. Once you find the right people, you need to align their goals and vision with those of your company and give them a sense of ‘purpose’. It should be something that resonates – something that will motivate them. You can instil a sense of purpose in your staff by bringing them into the heart of the company immediately. Make them feel confident and excited about working with you on day one:

  • Set up their workspace before they arrive
  • Organise a welcome lunch
  • Introduce them to all of their colleagues

Discuss their objectives as a part of the overall company mission and explain that what they are doing is going to make a real difference to the business. Create a uniform training structure that can be implemented across the business, even globally depending on your business. Provide online resources and training tools to ensure that all sites are equipped to maintain the training structure. Once this is up and running, you will be able to skill your new hires up quickly and efficiently. Throughout the training programme, make sure you’re consistently providing new hires as well as existing staff with a sense of purpose, vision, and community through big picture-oriented company and team meetings, social events, and weekly emails and exercises.

Top Tip: Give new hires “quick wins” and small rewards for achievements!

Provide a clearly defined career path. Your training structure should be tied to small tiered advancements so that people feel that by achieving objectives they are personally growing with the business.

Cut Your Losses

Despite all your best efforts, you may have under-achievers. Someone once told me to 'kill the slowest buffalo' and although it’s hard, it will improve your business. To maintain a high performing team, you need to keep the bar set high. If you lower it for one under-performer, the rest of your team will start slipping down to that level. And this will affect the overall office morale and company culture. Make sure you're regularly assessing performance, especially for new hires, and cut your losses quickly if you find someone is not performing to the desired standard. The faster you find and fix this, the better off your business will be.

Hire ‘10s’

My last piece of advice is to always hire ‘10s’. I’ve heard it called the Law of Diminishing Expertise… If your desired team member is a ‘10’ but you hire a 9, then they will hire an 8, who will then hire a 7, and on it will go in that direction. Keep standards high and don’t compromise. Always interview and hire your first 50 staff personally to set the bar at the right level.

Need help?

If you need help with your hiring and retention strategy, get in touch. Our consultants are specialist, industry- savvy professionals who know their fields inside-out. We can help you identify what and who you need, and we have the contacts to source the best-fitting candidates.

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Author: Alice Weightman

As Founder and CEO, Alice established Hanson Search in 2002 and has since gained a reputation as one of the leading search professionals in senior appointments across communications, developing an incredible network globally.

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