How to Use Job Benchmarks to Hire and Grow Great Employees

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Developing Employees

Hiring based on job descriptions alone? You might run into trouble as soon as new hires walk through the door. You’ve outlined what employees need to do. So what? You need to describe what employees need to be – what skills they need to own, behaviors they need to demonstrate, motivators they need to exhibit. If you’re going by job description instead of benchmarking roles, you’re just getting part of the equation – and that’s not nearly good enough. The Job Benchmarking system can help you get it right.

Is Job Benchmarking Right for Your Company?

We license a hiring system called Job Benchmarking. Instead of relying on a hit-or-miss, hope-for-the-best approach, the system can create a streamlined internal hiring process that helps weed out unsuitable candidates, better screen the skill profiles of suitable ones, and lay out a roadmap for growth and development of new hires.

To determine if it will help your company, ask yourself:

  • Have we done a good job of hiring people for this role in the past?
  • Have the people we’ve hired been successful in the role?
  • Have the people we have hired stayed on with the organization?
  • Have they moved up into new roles or other departments? Benchmarking is not just about skills; it’s about culture and ensuring you select a good fit.
  • Are we going to have to hire multiple people for this one role (salespeople, for example)?
  • Are we creating a specialty position that we’ve never had before?

The Benchmarking Process

To benchmark a position, we meet with the manager of the department in which the role resides, a few people who fill the position currently, and maybe managers with whom the new hire will interact. All told, the process takes about six hours, and we start with these questions: Why does this job exist? Why are you hiring for this role?

Through this process, we work with major stakeholders to develop three to five key accountabilities for the position. To define these expectations, we determine:

  • Top competencies or attributes that the person holding the job must have.
  • Top behaviors he or she should demonstrate.
  • Top motivators.

These motivators and expectations are compiled into an ‘Ideal Candidate Profile’ which provides the basis of the Job Benchmark. As companies interview people for the job, they are assessed against the job benchmark. You know exactly where each person matches the benchmark and where they don’t.

Now, as a hiring manager, you can look at the top three candidates, and make a conscious hiring choice based on interviews, assessments, and the benchmark. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “Well, I like this guy. Let’s hire him.”

When the new hire shows up it’s often a very different situation. “Who is this person? It’s not the same person I thought was going to show up and do this job.” Benchmarking helps prevent cases of buyer’s remorse.

How Often Do You Need to Benchmark?

One and done doesn’t quite cut it with benchmarking. We worked with a healthcare consulting firm and benchmarked a job in 2007. In the next few years, the role changed based on the company’s clients and the state of healthcare in the United States. In 2011, we updated the benchmark to reflect these shifts.

You don’t have to benchmark every year. Every two to three is a safe bet, especially if something happens in the department, organization, industry, or customer base.

In addition, the benchmark can facilitate ongoing development. As new hires grow within their role, they have a clear, long-term career path to follow as long as the benchmark is up-to-date.

More than a Hiring Tool

When new hires come on board, you can use the job benchmark as a development tool. Where do they match? In which areas do they need improvement? What are their strengths? And can you build on them? No one comes to a job as the complete package, but benchmarking can help you plot a course to help them learn and grow within the organization.

You can’t afford to wait to get the right people in the right roles. Job benchmarking ensures you make conscious hiring decisions and take strategic action to keep talent in your company, and out of the hands of the competition.

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