We all understand that we need people to run our businesses but do we understand how people can contribute to the success of our businesses?  This was one question that researchers at the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University posed in 2005 when they studied employee selection processes at 250 small businesses.

These researchers understand that workforce alignment requires that you have the right types of people, in the right places at the right times, doing the right things right. A company with the right types of people has employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to help that company achieve its goals.

It makes sense that an aligned workforce increases performance and profitability, and, not surprisingly, research confirms this.  It also makes sense that we need to better understand our employees to further drive the success, growth, and performance of our business.

What do we need to do to get a handle on how we can align our hiring practices to hire the right types of people?  We need to start hiring smart.”

Hiring Smart

Hiring smart requires that we align our hiring practices to hire the right types of people by –

  • Better understanding the company’s needs by defining and communicating our long-term company strategy and plan;
  • Communicating that strategy and plan as a recruitment strategy – attracting who we want and need for our future success;
  • Refining the application and interviewing process to solicit information about current talents as well as future potential and interests;
  • Identifying an applicant’s current potential to perform the functions of a job by understanding what is important in the job and matching that to what is present in the applicant;
  • Assessing and understanding how an applicant’s long-term potential can match with the company’s long-term strategy; and
  • Enabling job role changes to better fit a person’s natural talents – by understanding a person’s natural strengths and adapting the job role(s) as needed.

The better that we can understand what motivates a person to apply for a position in our company, why they are motivated, and how their thinking and decision preferences, values, and behaviors can be used to maximize their performance; the better able we will be to creating and maintaining that person-future fit that the Cornell research identified as creating the best, long-term workforce alignment.

Avoiding Costly Hiring Errors

This understanding can also help us to avoid those costly hiring errors that so frequently have occurred in the past, and which can no longer be tolerated in this new economy.  When we can better define where we are going and who we need to get us there we will create a more aligned and focused workforce.

We have the opportunity now, as our economy moves into recovery, to position our businesses for sustainable, long-term growth.  Good sound people management practices can positively impact our company’s bottom-line. A study of large publicly traded firms, found that companies using “high performance” human resource practices have market values that range from between $16,000 and $40,000 per employee higher than firms that do not use such practices.

As you look at your business, ask yourself – are you using strong employee selection practices?  Is your workforce aligned for positive, long-term company growth? What can you do now to foster that alignment and increase your business growth?  In our next installment we will discuss the second part to this equation – managing smart.