Many of us understand that the job market is a tough, competitive one. In the pursuit for good talent, it’s necessary to stand out in order to attract solid candidates.
However, if you look closely at your hiring criteria, you may find that you’ve set too stringent a criteria for your search and restricting or excluding the people who may be the best match for your organization.
Look at your hiring and job descriptions then see if any of these key phrases appear:
- XX years of YY industry experience
- XX years of <specific> regional management preferred
- Knowledge of Excel, Powerpoint, Word
- Experience using ZZ system (usually a CRM, SaaS, other technical interfaces)
- XX years working for AA or BB company/or in AA or BB operations/systems
- Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s preferred
- Extensive contacts and network in the industry
Now at first glance these seem like necessary skills that a candidate needs to possess. But dive a little deeper and ask a few questions respectively:
- Industry experience – Can someone from an ancillary industry serve in the same capacity with the same impact?
- Regional management – Does someone who is highly effective managing a team of 5 qualify them for managing a team of 50?
- Excel, PPT, Word – Do these still matter today? Do these need to be mentioned?
- Using a system – can someone who is competent learn your system?
- Working for a specific company – Does this shows preference and bias to an internal candidate? Or, can someone learn internal operations quickly and still effect needed change?
- Degree required, preferred – If the right candidate emerges without this, will you disqualify them?
- Contacts in the industry – Does this “rainmaker” bring the right customers into the pipeline? Do you show a red flag for not generating leads or other internal warning signs?
The core question at the root of all of these is this:
Are you being too stringent in your own prejudices and hiring biases that you’re neglecting great talent?
I’ve worked with many companies and managers who let sharp talent slip past them because they carved out and restricted otherwise matching talent because they didn’t fit a certain pre-conceived mold.
In fact, I had one manager say she wasn’t going to hire a customer service person because there was a spelling error on her application!!
Yes, certain non-negotiable traits must be met. But how many do we place in our hiring process, and particular our ATS, that are kicked out because they aren’t – in what we and/or the ATS deem – the “right fit”.
Most hiring is like an iceberg. That top 10% is skill and the below the surface is the 90% behaviors that you can’t see at first. You only see the top 10% of what the person shows and neglect the 90% of who they are. And our hiring processes only are targeted for that 10% and leave the other 90% untouched. It’s that 90% that can tell you more accurately what a candidate brings to the table.
A former colleague of mine was refused an interview as he was told he didn’t have the needed experience. When they called him on the phone to inform him, he went down the job description and asked them line by line what the’re looking for, then matched it up with what his style and behaviors have accomplished. After each line, they admitted that he did have the relevant talent they were looking for. They scheduled an interview and he got the position after all.
Whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates, don’t restrict your chances to finding the right fit by narrowing your search. Have high standards, but open up the parameters to capture as many people as you can in the queue. Then you can use your standards to select the best from among them.
Companies have a funny way of justifying that they are better than what their customers say they are.
If you think that’s off the mark, check out the online reviews of companies and see their responses back to the customers. Or any public statement when it comes to an incident such as a recall, injury, or other negative issue the company is involved in.
These answers vary but all have the same root political spin to them. At the core of their responses, the infamous line usually appears:
We pride ourselves in delivering the best experience to our customers.
And that is also coupled with another phrase touting the company’s (relative) success up until that point:
We have had thousands of satisfied customers…; We have succeeded in the indsutry by…:
And quite frankly, responses like these are lame, pathetic, and serve no good to that customer or any other customer.
All a customer simply wants is their needs and expectations met or exceeded.
Your success does nothing for the customer with a complaint.
I have seen many companies and individuals offer excuses for delivering on poor service. The following are some actual responses from these organizations and professionals:
- Away taking awards trips (and focusing on self rather than making sure customers are tended to)
- Busy in meetings all day (customer feels they are not the prioirty)
- We’ve made xxx amount of money in the last year (that is not helping the cusotmer today)
- We just landed a major account (and ignoring the smaller accounts)
- We’re crazy busy around here (showing you’re disorganized and can’t control your business)
- We’ve never had a problem before (totally irrelevant to the situation)
If the customer cannot feel connected to you, then you are not a success in their eyes. They are the only ones that truly matter and failure to take action to meet their expectations or to take accountability for dropping the ball will have a negative impact on your business. Sustained excuses and touting your ability to deliver when it’s really not there will have far-reaching damage on your credibility as a leader and an organization.
It’s said in the restaurant industry, “You’re only as good as your last meal served.” A better phrase would be “You’re only as good as the customer you just served”. Nothing you’ve done in the past, even the prior minute, matters.
The only thing that matters to the customer is what you do for them while they’re standing in front of you.
Earlier today I was talking with two very good friends of mine, one a manager in a manufacturing facility and the other a supervisor for a regional utility company. As is usual each week, our discussion turned to work.
They described the challenges their companies had in properly serving the end user – the customer. Some of the things we discovered about their companies centered on the rationales of their organizations to focus on relatively important items, and not the ultimately important item – the customer.
The dysfunction of many companies – even larger, global, and successful ones – invariably finds it root in the vision of the company being taken off of the customers they serve, and onto the by products to delivering great service.
So from their discussion and other observations, here are some red flags that will inform you if your company is not customer focused as they should:
- Many, if not all, decisions are based on budget
- Many individual leadership decisions are based on their own bonus
- Metrics on productivity take on more meaning than the customer experience
- Larger customers take priority and often trump smaller customers
- Well running systems are the default answer to actual problems (“But our systems check out”)
- Actions are made in light of public perception
- Real customer needs are excused away or pushed aside for more expedient (to the company) matters
- The push for customer acquisition eclipses the need for proper service to existing customers
- Systems and processes don’t mesh together, creating inefficiencies and poor service
- Policies and regulations are thrown out in defense of actions (in order to minimize risk) that don’t meet customer needs
If any of these or other actions result in a failure to truly have customers as the core company focus, it’s time to react. Getting all departments, systems, and efforts tuned-in to the customer experience will correct many of these issues, and their results may even be better than the pursuit of those results on their own merits.
Any company can drift over time and end up in the above situations. It’s not a fatal trap, but can lead to fatality if not corrected before the customers figure it out. By having a laser focus on excellent customer service, you’ll create a cultural vortex that will bend all efforts vision towards the customer and lead to even better success.