Job benchmarking is like exercising. Everyone knows they should do it, but far fewer actually bother to move off their corporate couches and get in shape. We don’t have the time; we don’t have the resources; we don’t have the processes. Find a way to get them. Whether you’re looking internally or externally, you need to start using benchmarks to guide your hiring strategy. Without them, you risk investing in the wrong people and missing out on the right ones. Your company will atrophy.
Looking Outside Your Organization: Benchmarking for External Hires
Why is benchmarking so critical? Among the many reasons, it gets organizations out of their own way and allows them to assess the potential value of candidates objectively. Here’s an example: say someone had a career in manufacturing. In his 40s or 50s, he decided to go back to school and learn new skills.
Here’s what I see: This person is motivated and driven enough to retool himself. I’m impressed. He might be a terrific candidate for this role in my company.
Here’s what most companies see: Uh, no thanks. He doesn’t match what we thought our new hire would look like. He doesn’t “look” right for this job. Let’s pass him up.
You need to get over this type of thinking. Set up benchmarks, assess the candidates, and then interview. So many companies get this backwards. You want to see the resume; you want to do the interview. But this can lead to bias. You dismiss potentially great employees, great fits for your organization and culture, because they don’t “look” the way you think they should.
Benchmarks eliminate bias. They show you explicitly where people match up to your needs and where they don’t. Failing to take this step is one of the single most catastrophic – and stupid – mistakes you can make when hiring.
Looking Within: Using Benchmarking for Your Current Employees
What about the talent within your own walls? According to Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report, companies that want to survive and thrive in this world “should constantly attract new talent and ‘re-recruit’ the talent that is already in place.”
If you already have a benchmark set up for roles, it’s easy to assess internal candidates against it. You might find someone in another department or position who would be a great match. Maybe they need a little training, a little retooling. Maybe they’ve been working with a different set of skills but can transfer their potential to a new area.
I’m here to tell you, there isn’t a whole lot of new talent being “made” out there. You can’t clone ideal candidates, and, contrary to what you may have heard, robots are not going to take over the world. We still need humans. Turns out you have humans in your organization already. Why not find out what they can do for you?
You’re thinking in a narrow-minded way when you don’t explore internal candidates. Not only that, you’re missing out on a way to put people who already fit your culture, who have already proven themselves, and who already contribute into key roles. Maybe a competitor won’t be so biased – and maybe they’ll walk away with your talent.
Assessments take bias out of the equation. Too often, companies get stuck in a mindset like this: Joe is an IT guy. He can’t do client relations. Really? Why not? Tools like Trimetrics HD offer an acumen capacity component. You can see if Joe should stay in the back room or if he has the capacity for a customer-facing role. Maybe he only needs a little training or support but has the fundamental skills you need.
You’re missing the boat when you stick with your preconceived ideas about your own internal talent. Consider this: in 1960, GE hired a junior engineer with a specific set of skills. This person rose through the ranks and took over the company. If GE had been narrow-minded, they’d have missed out on Jack Welch – and the billions he made for them.
Not everyone’s going to become the CEO, but there are people within your own walls who have the capacity to do more for your organization. Sure, pass them up. Let them do more for a competitor’s organization.
The bottom line is that benchmarks help you make better hiring decisions. You can’t pass people up because they don’t “look” like your ideal candidate. Get bias out of the equation, and start hiring smarter.