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Choose Right the First Time

by Mark Deavall August 2011

A short while ago I addressed a conference where there were about 1500 managers and owners of businesses present. I was just on time, and therefore did not have the opportunity to listen to the speakers before me, so I wasn’t able to dovetail my talk into theirs. I decided therefore to just jump in with both feet, and hope I floated.

“The reason that I have a job is because you keep employing the wrong people, and then you pay me to come in and try to fix them!” was my opening statement. There was a stunned silence. You could hear a pin drop. Then a murmur of disapproval started, which turned into a noise of people arguing with each other. I let it carry on……..

Eventually one man, who had a louder voice than any of the others said, “He’s right! I spend hours making sure that I hire people that appear to be the most competent people that I can find, yet at the end of the day, all I have got is someone whose only commitment is to earn as much money as possible for as little output as possible. I thought that my managers were the problem, now I realise that although these new employees are technically competent, their behaviour causes me more problems than I had before!

“It’s because you’re recruiting only for technical competence and not for quality” I replied. “You can take a person and teach them the fundamentals of your business fairly quickly, but you can’t teach them integrity, punctuality, honour, integrity, the ability to see around corners, team skills, attention to detail, a sense of caution and restraint, a problem solving attitude etc. Technical competence indicates that they should be able to do the job. The qualities of the individual indicate how WELL they will do the job.” I continued. “The key to successful recruitment is to recruit for qualities, and be prepared if necessary, to train the competence.” But the qualities need to be non-negotiable. They need to be present from day one. This is the “tool box” that the job seeker brings to the job that will make them successful.

So here’s a thought then, and an extremely important one: how much does it cost your company, as a multiple of the employee’s annual salary, to replace a person that has left your company after one year, and you were happy to see that person go? In other words this person was hired for their technical competence, and resigned or was fired, because of their behavioural faults. Well the estimate is between three and five times their annual salary! AND THAT MONEY COMES DIRECTLY OFF THE COMPANY BOTTOM LINE. And seeing as we are all in business to make money, I would think that this is a rather important consideration! These costs are the directly measurable costs of recruiting and training, as well as the non-measurable costs of how many customers were made unhappy and decided to deal with another supplier or vendor, how many people in your business were negatively influenced by this person etc. And most of these issues you will only discover after the individual has left your employ.

Recruiting the Right person for Right job, for the Right reason, for the Right money and at the Right time, has a direct positive influence on the profitability of your business. It is as strategically important as any other critical strategy in your business.

And now with more and more people joining the unemployment queue, it is becoming ever more difficult to sift the really good ones. Everyone is on their best behaviour at interview stage and will say anything and commit to anything just to get the job. Don’t relax your strategic requirements of recruiting. Be even tougher in your vetting processes. You simply cannot afford the cost of recruiting the wrong person.

I trust that you have found benefit in this article. If you would like to contact me or have me talk to the people in your company, please call me on 27 11 609-1264, or e-mail me

For more articles, go to Mark’s blogs and on Twitter at  

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