5 Recruitment Mistakes – 1 No preparation


5 Recruitment Mistakes You Must Avoid – Mistake number 1: no preparation


Last week I identified five recruitment mistakes. This week you can find out how to avoid

4 enevelopes containing unread CVs

The candidate’s CV unread

the first mistake – not preparing properly. I remember seeing a Video Arts training film on recruitment many years ago. John Cleese stars as Æthelred the Unready in a memorable scene where he has completely forgotten a candidate is due for an interview and is opening the envelope containing the candidate’s CV as the candidate walks in. But how should you prepare properly?




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Recruitment mistake 1: No preparation


If you don’t prepare properly you reduce you drastically reduce your chances of a successful recruitment. Here’s what I recommend.



Where do you start your preparation?


As with most other things, start with the objectives. Ask yourself: What does this individual to achieve?



Don’t start with the old job description you have been using for years


If you do this, you will probably get what you have always got and may well be missing vital improvements you could have made.



Make sure the objectives are up to date


Once you have the objectives, review then and make sure they are completely up to date. I was working with a client recently who wanted to recruit a customer service manager. This is one of those jobs that, if you are not careful, can end up being completely reactive. But when taking on a new person you have the opportunity to make radical improvements.


We agreed that this role should be about improving the processes in the business so much that there were no complaints. It also needed to be about setting up the processes for new products and services so that the customers were happy right from the start.


We then further expanded the role to include up selling and identifying new product opportunities.



The job description


Once you have the objectives, you can start on the job description, which should outline the areas of responsibility. You can also include the immediate manager, and who the subordinates are. You need to be clear about the purpose of the job (this comes from the objectives).


I think it’s acceptable to include the objectives in this document if you want to.
Neither the objectives nor the job description need to be lengthy documents.



Person Specification


Lastly there is the person specification. This is the document you need in order to be able to recruit the right person. You need to specify the kind of person who would most easily be able to do a good job in this role and get you the results you need.


It needs to include the skills and experience required as well as a way of defining the ‘personality’. There are many different ways of defining personality traits. But what’s important is that you have one that works for the jobs you are recruiting for.


One of the easiest ways to make sure you have the right specification is to get the profile of someone you know who is already performing well in the same job or something similar.
It’s very easy to make an assumption about the kind of person without testing it and find out you’ve got it wrong. I remember one company I worked for where they decided to only recruit engineers with top-level degrees. However, neither of the people who had designed their best selling products had degrees. Many of the people they recruited were academically brilliant, but did not have the flair required for designing new products.


Next week discover some of the secrets to writing an ad that attracts the people you need.


If you can’t wait that long, get our booklet “How to Hire Well” now.


To find out more about our recruitment service, contact us and we’ll arrange a call to go through your requirements.

Working from home – does it work?


Do you sacrifice speed and quality when you work from

An armchair and coffee

The comforts of working from home



Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new chief has told their employees that they can no longer work from home according to a number of reports. One of the reasons given by Yahoo is that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”



Can you have team work from home?


Another reason given by Yahoo is “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”



An excuse to get rid of some poor performers


There are also suggestions from some commentators that not every home worker was doing a great job and that this may be a way of getting rid of some of them.


If this is the case then it’s not really the home-working that’s the issue. It’s the people who have been recruited and the way they have been managed (or not managed). These issues should be tackled, otherwise you risk losing good people as well as bad and reducing the performance of people who are doing a good job working from home.



The real issue is trust


Suddenly telling people they can’t work from home any more is the same as telling them you no longer trust them. It is hard to imagine many employees who would find this approach motivating.



Managing performance from home


The key to managing performance from home is exactly the same as managing performance anywhere. It starts with recruiting the right people and then continues with having clear objectives. Then you need to focus on the output and what is achieved and make sure the individual has the resources required to produce the output. It’s called delegating. It’s just as you would do with any employee in the office.


Then you monitor the output just as you would for any other team member.


Managers who worry about being able to monitor work from home are generally the very same managers who measure work by the hours put in rather than the result and quality of the output. This is because they are almost incapable of measuring anything other than time spent at the desk. They are the kind who don’t even like you to spend a few minutes getting yourself a coffee and are poor delegators.


They are the ones who are convinced people who work from home are not working and see it as a ‘perk’. You probably know some of them.



Focus on what you need to achieve first


What’s important is achieving the objectives. Where that is done should not be the issue. Obviously there are some jobs where you have to be on site to do the job. If you are a chef or a vet, for example.


To get the results you need it’s much more effective to explain what you need to achieve and then ask people what the best way of achieving it is. For example if you need lots of new ideas and innovation, say so. Then ask people how this can best be achieved.


To say that you have to come into the office (even if you’ve been incredibly productive working from home for years) because that will lead to more innovation and collaboration is foolish. It may work, it may not.



If you are a good manager it doesn’t matter where your team is


The management skills required are the same. But perhaps having a remote team makes it easier for poor performers with bad managers to perform poorly for longer simply because others don’t notice.


Having said that I’ve seem plenty of cases where people have performed badly for years in the office without issues being tackled. We all have. It was nothing to do with where they were working.


How do you spot poorly performing managers?


How do you measure poor performance in managers?


If you have ever worked for a poorly skilled manager you know it. You don’t need anyone to tell you. Especially if you have also worked for a really good manager and can compare the difference.



But how do you tell if the manager works for you?


How do you know you have a poor manager in your organisation? You know because of

Are there poor managers in your organisation?

Are there poor managers in your organisation?

the symptoms. It is rare that the problems you get in any organisation are the results of anything other than poor management. Sadly dealing with poor performance in these situations also seems to be quite rare.



Monitoring performance


Many years ago I was asked to work with a manager (we’ll call him Bill) of a very large department. This was after months of pleading from two of the managers who worked for him that I had known for several years. They had made representations to HR and various other areas, till someone gave in. In the mean time there were constant complaints, people were unhappy and some very good people had left.


When I saw Bill’s boss, Toby (not his real name to protect the very guilty), he denied there was any cause for concern. He told me how good Bill was technically, and assured both myself and the HR manager that the company was lucky to have Bill.


I asked him what the output of Bill’s department was compared to other similar departments around the globe.


Toby opened his laptop and perused some figures. Unbelievably the output of Bill’s department was 18% of that of any other comparable department. The HR manager in the meeting gasped audibly. I checked that I hadn’t misheard. What was shocking about this was that Toby wasn’t even aware of this till I asked him to check the figures.


I asked what the output had been like before Bill joined, two years earlier. The output was amongst the best in the company for that area.


For another 15 minutes Toby tried to defend Bill and give reasons why this should be left alone. He gave all kinds of excuses but the HR manager (to her great credit) was having none of it.



Your responsibilities


If you manage other managers it is your responsibility to make sure they are doing a good job. If they are not performing you need to take action.


This means you need to have some measures in place. They don’t have to be very sophisticated. Output is a good start, as are quality standards, absence rates and turnover.


If you notice any negative trends in these figures, you need to investigate immediately.



Tackle the problem


Now it may be you don’t have the skills to resolve the issues yourself (Toby clearly did not), but it’s your responsibility to make sure they are resolved in some way and give the efforts your full support.


It is simply no good to let things go on as Toby did. Bill had a department of well over 100 people. At the time I started working with him, at least 10 good people had left.


When you don’t tackle these issues, you are letting down your whole department – and the rest of your organisation. The more senior you are the worse it is (and generally the more you are being paid to make sure the issues are resolved).


For help on dealing with poor performance, go here:


Dealing with Poor Performance