Third-world farmer: 1
Modern American manager: 0
If American companies want to start hiring like it matters again, it’s time to behave like the third-world country we were in the 18th century. In with common sense. Out with Human Resources bureaucracy.
I’ve been teaching how to do the job to win the job on Ask The Headhunter for 15 years. Reader Chris Hogg is an employment counselor in Columbus, Ohio who works with an interesting clientele. Chris validates the Ask The Headhunter approach in ways I couldn’t dream of. Better yet, he demonstrates that these methods were invented out in the field by managers who have been getting the job done for centuries.
Want to hire more effectively? Here’s how to do assess and hire people, third-world style:
I assist refugees and immigrants new to the U.S. with finding employment.
One gentleman from a war-torn part of Africa had a large farm and employed workers at various times of the year. No tractors, no machines, just hard physical work and oxen when available.
I asked him how he hired employees throughout the year. He said he’d bring folks in for a day or two and watch them work. Were they honest, did they treat the animals well, did they show up on time, do the work when he wasn’t there, do good work and so on? The ones that did the job to his satisfaction got hired for the month or three that they were needed.
I don’t think he ever read your book, but his approach sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
I hear similar stories from the Middle East and various other places.
Many new arrivals to the U.S. are bewildered by our interview process. They are used to showing up, doing the work and being hired long-term if they perform well—and we’re talking a wide range of professions, from farming to IT to engineering to tailoring and more.
I just thought you’d like to know.
In the September 15, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter I discussed the massive disconnect between contemporary corporate hiring and the way people with brains do it. The problem isn’t just in America — it’s around the world. It seems the more sophisticated the operation is, the more cumbersome and idiotic the hiring process is.
UPDATE | I’ve put the 9/15/09 edition online:
Try people out before hiring them: How third-world farmers beat corporate HR
No, I’m not suggesting that computer programmers should stand on a corner and wait to be picked up to do some coding. (Though that might not be a totally kooky idea…) But I am suggesting that employers oughta try people out — and pay them for the time they’re being tested on the job.
A manager can ask a job candidate anything in the world… so why ask the Top Ten Stupid Interview Questions, when the manager could ask the candidate to show how she would do the job?
Or, we can keep asking job applicants where they see themselves in five years, what their greatest weakness is, what animal they’d be if they could be any animal, and to describe a problem they dealt with in some other job while a third-world manager puts the best candidates on the job to test them out and puts your company out of business.
HR consultants and corporate lawyers will come up with plenty of obstacles to this approach, but managers need to remind these folks that their job is to enable managers to hire effectively. Have a policy problem? Change the policy. Managers do not exist to support HR policy; HR policy should support managers. And hiring like it matters should be the new policy.
Would you go to work for a manager like Chris Hogg’s farmer? Would you hire like that farmer does if you could?
(Special thanks to Chris Hogg.)