Chemistry — the critical secret ingredient in the hiring process

I wondered what I did wrong in hiring Joe. We prescreened all candidates carefully. We did multiple interviews. We had everyone who would be working with Joe talk with him and make sure the fit was right. We double-checked all his references. I even made sure that I understood his personal goals for the next five years and assumed that he could reach them in our company. After two years of trying, I finally threw in the towel and fired him. Not only was I relieved, so was he. What did we miss? In a word, chemistry.

HR professionals have told me that in their experience, you need to hire three people for every two that you end up keeping. This ratio assumes that you have an excellent hiring process.

I’ve purchased cars, carefully weighing their features, only to find out that that I didn’t love them once I actually owned them. Thinking back, I experienced much the same ratio of having to purchase three to end up with two I loved. I’ve also found that the new products I was responsible for developing didn’t really “connect” until they were put into actual use and modified based on the reality of that use.

Why can’t we “get it right” 100% of the time, three out of three times? The answer is “chemistry.” Until an employee is functioning in the actual job, neither they nor you can be sure of the fit. Until you drive the car every day you can’t be sure. Until you run actual production with your new scheduler you can’t be sure.

For hiring, I recommend a 90 day “warranty” period. If the job fit doesn’t feel right within that period for you or the employee, it won’t ever be right. Cars can be replaced. Software can be modified and enhanced. It isn’t fair to the misfit employee or his teammates to keep trying to make it work out. “Hire slowly, fire quickly” is the motto of successful managers.

Once you’re beyond the 90-day period you want to focus on coaching for ever-increasing success. I’ve outlined a process for a better way to structure the job description and performance review process in an article published in the Business Strategy Series (Turning the Tables on Performance Reviews: How to Create a Better Process That Empowers, Energizes and Rewards Your Employees). Take a look, and contact me if you’d like to learn how to apply this process in your own organization.

This entry was posted in HR Management and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.