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December 2017
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With people decisions, don't wait too long

In a management training class I was conducting, one of the participants stated firmly, "You know, management wouldn't be too difficult if it weren't for the people." All of the others laughed and agreed as they shared several examples of the challenges they had faced or observed with employees as they attempted to resolve issues or make decisions regarding those working in their departments or within their span of control. They all discussed how complex these issues and their resolutions were, and how it often required the involvement of others--co-workers, other managers, etc.--and multiple meetings to come to satisfactory conclusions and resolutions.

While I never recommend quick, 'shoot-from 'the hip' decision-making—especially for complex, people challenges, postponing the resolution of an issue can exacerbate things later. Let's examine one of the more difficult and important people challenges--recruiting and hiring-- to see why well- constructed and timely decision-making is good management.

Recently, Manpower Group's annual survey identified a hesitation on the part of employers to make hiring decisions in 2012. At the same time a third of companies noted difficulties in finding new employees to fill job openings, and yet the larger group of survey respondents said they were getting by with a smaller, leaner staff in order to save costs. Short term cost savings approaches, while appealing can cause longer term strategic growth problems.

Here are several reasons to plan better and move ahead at a reasonable pace when adding people to your company.

1. Adding people is more than filling a job--it's strategic. While some employees may only be around for short time, the majority of people (yes, even today) do not want to keep hopping around from company to company. If your organization offers a good culture where people are recruited, trained, respected, regarded and rewarded, they will stick with you. It is far easier and more stable to build an organization with people who fit in and know the values and the history, then it is with those who 'pop-in', work hard enough and ' pop out' at the first opportunity.

2. People looking for a job have individual strategic needs. When a person is considering joining a company, he or she is looking for an organization where career needs will be addressed better than at other places they might be considering. Some things are obvious such as pay and benefits, but other needs might not be as obvious. Having a company culture that matches with their values is likely more important in the long run for retaining them should they choose to take your offer.  A good culture not only offers support for employees, it also offers future growth opportunities that mesh with individual career goals. Growth for individuals is enhanced with formal and on-the-job learning, training and coaching from managers and supervisors.

3. If we wait, we might lose out. Good people always have other options. This is most commonly noted with superstar athletes who are able to negotiate unbelievable contracts paying them exorbitant salaries because they have the promise to generate huge returns for the teams and the owners. While we are most likely not involved in professional sports, we all want star employees, too. I encourage every company to attempt to find the best and the brightest performers; the difficulty is everyone else wants the same thing. Your star recruits may have better job offer packages than what we can muster.

            However, remember these truisms, most employees unlike sports stars, don't have a few short years to make their living, and money does not answer all of the important needs and wants for potential employees. Do your best to think about the ideas discussed here and go after the best people. Once you have identified some potential stars, don't wait to make the offer. And, as an insurance policy, always have at least one other good candidate you could live with should your star turn you down.

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