Why You Should Be Worried About More Than Hiring Bad Apples In This Day and Age

Why You Should Be Worried About More Than Hiring Bad Apples In This Day and Age

One of my clients learnt the hard way when they hired someone without doing sufficient due diligence.

That hire, who is no longer an employee, wreaked havoc on the client’s business during their short time there. 

They behaved in a manner inconsistent with the client’s values and ethics. The business’s clients and the network of referral partners accrued negative experiences that put the business at risk.

That bad hire’s antics distracted the client from much more important work and pushed them into damage control while the bad hire was there and long after they were removed.

In their 2008 New York Times Best-Selling book Who: The A Method for Hiring, Geoff Smart and Randy Street reported that hiring mistakes cost, on average, fifteen times an employee’s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss.

You may think my client was unlucky to have selected a bad apple.

That may be so.

However, I’m sharing this story because, in a 2021 survey of 300 hiring managers, recruitment firm Robert Half found that 75% of organisations with 500+ people believe the cost of a bad hire is more severe today than in previous years and that this rises to 91% amongst small and medium enterprises.

This isn’t because we’re seeing more bad apples, like the one my client was unfortunate enough to hire.

It’s because the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2024 reveals a world plagued by a dangerous combination of climate and conflict crises alongside rapidly accelerating technological change and economic uncertainty.

Operating contexts are changing more rapidly and becoming more ambiguous and uncertain.

This raises the risk of hiring someone whose technical skills are right for today but who could be left behind or even unintentionally wreak havoc when the context changes in the future.

Organisations that fail to hire people who can tolerate ambiguity or support new hires in developing their tolerance from day one could experience the equivalent of a magician’s act gone wrong. 

What is meant to be a dazzling display of skill and expertise will turn into a bewildering spectacle of unexpected outcomes when the new hire’s reactive tendencies are triggered, and they lack the self-awareness to adapt and respond.

The risk of this happening is high, given Queensland University of Technology research suggests that only 10% of the working population has a clear tolerance of ambiguity. This tolerance is the secret to unlocking high performance and employee wellbeing.

So, how do you ensure you’re spending more time focused on what matters and less time firefighting and getting the team you’ve hired unstuck?

You can shift your selection processes from choosing the best person for today to using insights from the selection process to hire people whose skills you can cultivate so they can thrive in uncertain contexts and turn ambiguity into opportunity. 

If you’d like to know more, you can download the full white paper or book a time for a chat.

Dreams need the right people!

As Walt Disney said, ‘You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality‘.

You can reach for your dreams, but you’ll need people who can embrace future unknowns if you want to make those dreams a reality.

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