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IT Staff Selection – Hiring the “Right” People – a Management Responsibility!

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IT Workforce costs constitute upward of 50% of the total IT budget.  A “wrong hire” can cost a company more than the annual total cost of employment of an employee in terms of productivity loss, cost of replacement, and impact on the morale of other staff.

So, “hiring”, or IT Staff Selection, should be one of the most critical aspects of a CIO’s overall strategy.

Potential candidates can look very impressive on paper and they may interview well, but just don’t “fit in” when faced with “on the job” situations.  Typical results of bad hiring decisions are:

  • Inability to perform adequately in the job for which they were hired
  • Poor relationships with co-workers
  • Poor relationship with management
  • The need for sometimes expensive IR processes to resolve the situation.

Other potential candidates may not look good on paper and may not interview well, but may well have performed well on the job.

Sadly “hiring” decisions are not easy, but they can be made easier by having the right tools in place.

  • Organisational Culture – All organisations have a “culture” – even those that claim that they don’t have a culture.  Their “culture” is laissez-faire, and people who are not accustomed to “self-management” will not fare well in that organisation.  The culture of the organisation needs to be understood, and potential candidates need to be able to operate within that culture.
  • Good Job Descriptions – What are the “outcomes” or “deliverables” of the role?  What are the “responsibilities” of the role?  What tasks need to be performed in order to deliver the “outcomes”?  What Competencies are needed to perform the job?  A good Job Description enables accurate assessment of potential candidates to help ensure a “better” hire.  The cost savings can be very significant.
  • Accurate Competency Profiles – How can the competencies of potential candidates be accurately, consistently and fairly assessed?  In most hire situations, this is guesswork.  But with a good, accurate Competency Profile, the assessment of potential candidates is more consistent, more fair, and much less expensive in the long run.
  • Tools Definition – Good IT Infrastructure – Even if an individual has the skills and experience to do the job, do they have the tools to deliver peak performance? For example, a highly skilled and experienced web designer cannot build a website without adequate and appropriate development tools.  The tools do not have to be the most up-to-date, but a system that crashes or takes longer than necessary, can be incredibly frustrating and unproductive, even to the best performer.
  • Experience – Just because an employee has the skills to do a job does not mean that they have the experience to apply those skills in his specific position.  This is especially true for recent graduates, outside hires from different industries and internal hires from different departments.  While the required skills may be similar from one job to the next, differing applications and terminology may require that the new hire take time to learn the nuances of his new position.

It is in everyone’s best interest for the organisation to have the right tools to set appropriate expectations for the new employee from the beginning. This is especially true if the job requires special technical capabilities.

The responsibility for these “tools” is no longer just in the hands of HR, but is the direct responsibility of management.  The CIO / IT Manager today needs to ensure that the biggest chunk of his budget can be effectively managed for maximum productivity.

By: Gail Sturgess – TalentAlign
August 2010 

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