We’re days away from the end of one of the longest, most painful hiring processes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Next Tuesday, November 8th, it’ll finally be over. One of two candidates will get the job.
You guessed it, right? I’m talking about the Presidential Election—which I like to think of as the American people filling a soon-to-be-vacant spot in the Executive Branch of the U.S. government.
This round of Executive Branch hiring has been interesting and occasionally entertaining. But overall it’s been a slow, painful ride to get to the point where “We, the People” can offer someone the position of President of The United States.
It’s been dragging on for over a year. Many people made their choice long ago. A handful are still up in the air. They’re waiting until the last minute to decide. Why? They’re afraid of making a bad choice.
Thankfully, this chaotic, unpredictable, interminable job interview has a hard end-date. The loser will cast blame; the winner will heap praise. Pundits will analyze and say even more than they have already. I know I’m not alone in hoping we learn something from all this, and the next election won’t be quite so bad.
Well—here’s to hoping.
Believe it or not, there really are lessons to learn inside all this madness. Lessons those of us in the business world can use to hire top talent more quickly and efficiently. Here are a few:
LESSON #1: Delayed decisions don’t create better hires.
During this election, we’ve operated under a faulty premise. We assume the long process will result in a quality choice. How’s that working out for us? Not so well. We’ve ended up with the opposite: our final two candidates both have obvious, glaring flaws. Polls rate Clinton and Trump as the two most unsatisfactory candidates in decades.
When it comes to hiring, most organizations operate under the same faulty premise. They think the more time, money, and energy they expend, the better the hire will be. It gives them a sense of control.
But it’s a false sense of control.
Taking lots of time to hire doesn’t save companies from bad hires; it only saves people from making decisions. It’s not that these are bad people. No one wants to make a hiring mistake, so they put it off and hide behind process and procedure. I don’t blame them…they’ve simply bought into a bad idea. The old way of hiring is to keep a job open until the right person shows up. The result is long time-to-fill, lots of open seats, higher expenses, more effort, and frustrated leaders.
LESSON #2: Being slow to hire has consequences.
590 days and counting.
That’s how long this election has been going on. Compare that to Canada: in 2015 they took 78 days. In the U.K.: 139 days. A long election cycle is distracting, exhausting, and expensive. It keeps candidates stuck in campaign mode instead of doing the work of governing.
Slow hiring is no better. The longer it takes to hire, the longer a job remains open. Work piles up, which creates extra demand on everyone from staff to leadership. Not to mention to gradual accumulation of unnecessary expenses including but not limited to overtime, lost business, and missed opportunities.
LESSON #3: This is how it’s always been done, so it must be right.
During the primaries, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders touted a similar message: the status quo is broken. This resonated with millions of voters, making both campaigns more successful that anyone thought possible. However, after the primaries, both Democrats and Republicans went back to their same old tricks. The deluge of negative ads, campaign surrogates spewing soundbites on TV, and daily robocalls threatens to drive us all insane. It’s no wonder we have election fatigue. Politicians say Washington needs fixing, but they certainly aren’t interested in fixing the way they campaign.
When it comes to hiring, many organizations are no different: they keep doing things the same old way, even though the same old way is ineffective. Why? It’s easier to maintain the status quo, especially if you’re afraid changing things won’t work. Companies are stuck in the slow lane of hiring, losing valuable time and top talent to faster competitors.
Election fatigue isn’t just about the long campaign process. It’s also about powerlessness. Our powerlessness. As citizens, there’s nothing we can do. We can’t make this election any better or faster. As a business leader, however, you’re not powerless. You can make things better and faster. You have the power to effect change in your organization. What better way to channel that power than to implement a fast and efficient hiring process?
You already have a perfect example of how not to hire: the absurd, lumbering monstrosity known as the 2016 Presidential Race.
If you’d like more details on the three key fundamentals of a speedy and efficient hiring process, read When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow.